Monday, August 31, 2009

I've Been Cookin'

That seems so simple, doesn't it? Cooking. Not a big deal. I used to loooovvveee cooking. I loved trying new recipes and ingredients or making an old-fashioned meal. Seriously, loved cooking. But then Hoot came along and turned my world upside down. When I thought I was coming up for air, we had a loss which sent me into a sadness that gained intensity in the late winter/early spring. And then who let this summer hit?? Ugh, it was one of those seasons. All that to say, I feel like I'm inhaling and exhaling in a rhythm now. Much better. I seem to be enjoying my world again and living right now. Wait, to clarify, I always enjoy my world---but there are levels of enjoyment. Before it was more of existing. In that existence, I did not enjoy cooking or the act of it. It was usually some thrown together meal. Sure, it usually tasted nice, but I don't feel like I added myself to it at all. You know, you put your love and thoughts into the recipe. You think of how much your family will enjoy the taste or your dish or you think about the special or secret ingredient you threw in just to make them go hmmmm?!...What is that specialness? For me cooking had been just another piece of my duties, not even a labor love. Shame, shame.

Well, I'm baaaaack. I made two meals that just made me smile all over on the inside. I felt like I truly cared for my family. My favorite meal was Meatballs in yummy spaghetti sauce. I NEVER make meatballs, but I found myself thinking of my friend Melissa {and former room mate} last week. I remember one night when she was getting off work later than my other room mate and me, we were in charge of making meatballs, and they had to be a very specific size to meet Melissa's meatball connoisseur needs. Anyway, that sparked the idea of making meatballs for the fam. I made a side of pasta and the option of making your own sub with herb encrusted Italian bread and an awesome Caesar salad. I'm on this Caesar salad kick right now??!! Straaange!

Anyway, I just loved putting the meal together. A heart song indeed.

And then my favorite dessert that was made last week. I didn't take a picture of it...Blast...But good news you can look here and see the pie and recipe. Oh, it's soooooo great! A true hit with the family and it seemed to fit the time of year very well. Cherry-Cream Crumble Pie, you should rule the world. Ahhhh, yesss. {Quite whisper of delight} I substituted fat-free sour cream and lite cherries and it still turned out super fantastique. {Que second sigh of delight and remembrance}

Anywho, just wanted to shout from the rooftops, er, blog that I'm cooking {and baking} again and the joy is coming on in. If you get the chance, make that pie!

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wild Things Making Wild Things

I've already expressed my absolute glee over the book Where the Wild Things are becoming a movie. As a childhood favorite of mine (oh I can even remember 'watching' the book on the slide 'film' in library), I have wanted the boys to love it just as much. And they do. Well, in celebration of the book we made our very own Wild Things inspired by Skip to My Lou. We've/I've been inspired to make/do lots ideas and stuff from this site. Having fun!

We made four Wild Thing Pillows. One for each of the boys and a collaborative pillow just for the fun of it. It's quite fun!

This is where OCD kicks in for Prof X. T-Bird had put speckles on our collaborative Wild Thing. It's kind of a bird so that would make sense. Not a big deal to most. But the Professor was doodling along, spots the dots, halts all productions...You can see the Professor's eye hone in. He can't stop himself. The world started moving at a slower pace. Must...Connect...The...Dots...
And he did. He connected the speckles. T and I were doubled over laughing and the Prof was naturally unaware of what was so funny.

I said to T, "That's not what you had in mind is it?" Through broken laughter he says, "No."
And then laughs some more. One of my favorite qualities of T-Bird is that he enjoys his brothers. Even when they seemingly destroy an artistic flow, T sees the funny, beautiful workings of them. That is a blessing.

Professor X is also in a bit of a rut where he has to be as near like T as possible. This is his homage to T's Wild Thing.

Hoot's. We made it for him. He was napping. He has no idea he missed anything. He loves his pillow.


The collaborative work. With connected dots and all.

Ah, Hoot's up and at 'em.
This is the best stuffer this side of the Mississippi. He stuffed all of the pillows and even figured out how to use that stuffing stick before I could show him. Mr Creativity indeed.

I would show you all of the boys holding their loved Wild Things. Alas, there was a Wild Thing War and Hoot's ended up behind the heavy bookcase. It's a Hoot thing, trust me. Anyway, just know that the boys had a wonderful time and the other two boys sleep with their pillows. Neat.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Good Report

1. Sunday dinners after church.

2. Phone conversations with my dear friend thousands of miles away. Distance and time do not determine the quality of a friendship.

3. Sweet, sweet, mild weather end of summer days.

4. First haircuts and the greatest barbers in the world! They are like family to us!

Peach has been waiting to strap this young 'un in for some time. Tame the mane!

5. Habitat creations.

A pond in the making.

They didn't seek a building permit from their mom first.

What's a mom to do?
Proceed, Boys. {my, my}

6. A day with Wilbur Robinson.

Quiet time creations. Our own Robinson town. We are a Robinson family! It's one of our favorite, favorite, favorite books and movies.

The uncles. Dimitri and Spike.

One of the first things I ask all of my new acquaintances, "Do you like the Robinsons?" Yes, it's that important. When I say we or our, I do mean all of us! Weekly Robinson quotes escape our mouths. We are propitious lovers of random. I'm afraid it seems to be a life long sentence.

7. Brotherly love and respect.

Oh, and boots. Hoot actually calls himself Boot. {Sigh}

8. The upcoming of harvest colors.

9. Stores with grocery carts for kids. Even the pet stores have them now!! The problem with this is that Hoot makes his mental own list. Yes, he shops! Look at him. That's not on Mom's master list!! You should see what we end up with. His little mind is so beautiful to me. It's a random mind if nothing else. {love random!}

10. Restored friendships. A dear family seemed to disappear from our radar about 2 years ago. We received a blessing Friday night. My mom stumbled upon them and reconnection commenced! So, so thankful for serendipitous moments!

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Ninja-ya

Or the ninja store as my kids call it. This was a treat for our oldest little boy blue. And it was Brett's idea! He has great ideas!!

Notice the slightly frightened face on the boys. I'm sure they were thinking back and forth on whether the guy really had the fire under control. Rational, irrational, rational, irrational. Mom and Dad wouldn't take us to a place where fire dances everywhere, right??

See why we wanted that kid to come to the Ninja-ya???!! That's a priceless face in the pic below.
{In Japan, most all shops end in ya--store. Like sushiya: sushi store/restaurant. Or kutsuya: shoe store.} Now you can understand why the boys have lovingly dubbed the Japanese Steakhouse as the Ninja Store. They call our fave Mexican cuisine restaurant the Salsa Store and our favorite Steakhouse the Cowboy Store. I'm unsure if this is healthy for them to rename everything in our world, but that's how we roll right now. Oooo, note to self, write a list of all our words. Note noted.
I think Hoot is actually memorizing the method to the controlled chaos. Scary thought for this Momma!!!!!!! No, really!

Slurpy san. (Mr Slurpy)
I have to admit the best part of our dining was when the fire was HUGE and I look over and Prof X is huffing and puffing more than the Big Bad Wolf ever blew. He was trying to put the fire out!! The entire table laughed for several minutes, wiping our eyes from the tears of hilarity.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Bittersweet Treasures

I picked up reading a Thoreau and Walden book this week. Homeschooling has got me so giddy that I wanted to stretch my mind too. What better than a little Civil Disobedience?? This book has been on my shelf since my AP English class in twelfth {wow 12th looks funny when you spell it out} grade. I had looked at the inside flap many times. The names of past students who had my book. No big deal. After reading some on Monday evening, I flipped to that familiar front cover with the names, lo and behold a startling, yet loved name.

My favorite teacher from elementary was no one else's favorite. Her room was always a little too cold --learned to bring a sweater--, she was stern--scary stern--, she had this laugh where she would throw back her head and give a hearty chortle, she headed up a Civil War play every year--that was the thing to look forward to by being in 6th grade--, she was great with inspiring creative thought--oh, how many games and papers she helped us with--, she was a Christian, she also got on to me for singing "Life is a Highway"--yes, this would be before the Cars movie came out, obviously. I think it's some strange joke the little goody two shoes me got in trouble for singing a song that all of our kids now know. Sigh..I hate being in trouble!--she also passed away a few years ago. I felt a little lost, actually I knew that our world had lost such a gem! I miss her, just knowing she's not here hurts.

But remember my little treasure! There is her name in her dainty little handwriting in my book! I have a tangible piece of her! I am so blessed!

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Queen and Her Knights

The Happy Horseman!!!

{Note to the Queen: You need to start wearing make-up!} But the Queen hates to wear make-up!

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Homeschool Files: Pardon My Dissent

I sometimes get frustrated by just the sheer number of homeschooling methods--unschooling, Charlotte Mason, classical, Montessori, Waldorf...--see my point. I like Charlotte Mason because of the reading it encourages, actually it makes the want of learning the goal for the child. If you have a kid who desires to learn, you have a great foundation. Unschooling, I love because it makes the world your classroom. Why do we have to tag all of the methods? I had a conversation at the beginning of the summer with a *new* friend. Of course, homeschooling came up--it always does. She's more of a classical learner and thinker, we're kindred spirits. It's always nice to giggle over learning and the savory smell of books.

Our visit together left me longing for more substance, physical substance in our homeshooling here. When I worked at a christian book store part time, I would find my self perusing the homeschool sections. T-Bird was only 3 then, so that was sometime ago. I remember skimming through The Well Trained Mind. At the time, it seemed so involved that I leaned more toward the Charlotte Mason method. However, after the conversation with my *new* friend, I bought The Well Trained Mind and have committed to following most of their recommendations. That's horrifying to most of my friends. I know that they are cringing right now. But I truly believe in my heart of hearts, that this is the way we should go. Not only to I believe it because I want to, but I presented this to the Lord, and I feel like he has answered me. I have such a peace. Not only a peace, but this ~method~ has brought out the most input and help from my dear husband. Apparently, Brett is a more classical guy as well. {I knew he had class.} You know how you wonder if your husband has any unspoken expectations about your kids education. That's tough. Brett is my quiet fellow, but ~this~ has totally let me know of his ideas and goals for our kids. What a blessing!

I might also add that it's not like I would declare that we are a classical homeschool. I think the methods overlap in our case. Hello, do you know me?! There is a lesson in everything. I'm Mary Stinkin' Poppins when it comes to everyday we learn a new thing and probably sing a song about it. We went on a carriage ride this weekend, which of course led to the traveling by wagon and carriage conversation and how do you change wheel questions. Life is learning.

Side note, my kids were playing the Alamo the other day. You know fighting of the Mexican army in the Alamo. My! I think they forgot the end of that story! I love it! No, not the end, the part where they were pretend playing about a specific point/story in history.

Back to the big story: The classical style also includes reading and memorization very similar to Charlotte Mason. Why all the labels? I believe if you say classical, people immediately think woeful and laborious. Once again, do you know me? I wouldn't be able to do woeful and laborious. Yes, you have to be committed to educating them, but no more than any other method. They all require thought!

Okay, but can my kids handle this method? Prof X is doing Pre-K this year. Classical learning is his style. He's doing fantastique! But what about my Free Bird second grader. We've been testing out the new methods over the past two weeks. He's doing great and literally giggling while he is learning. That is so encouraging to this Momma!

I feel I should also clarify that I'm glad we've waited to start this way. My T-Bird needed the looser schedule, he's a boy who really needed the free time. Being the Momma of boys is one of the myriad of reasons that we educate at home. Most of us boy moms have read the books and statistics that say boys need that extra running, dirt dobbing fun time. They are just not ready to 'buckle' down until around 8 or so. I don't want to squash their little spirits. How many boys are labeled ADD or ADHD in school at such an early age? Perhaps they have had their little spirits squashed and are now labeled for life. Bah!

I love the schedule and suggestions of the classical style. I guess I'm such a free spirit that I need someone to map it our for me. That's what this does and so much more. We've chosen more in depth curriculum, which again, I have friends cringing, but I'm okay with that. The boys are loving their education! Isn't that the best thing.

So pardon my dissent. We're moving away from other methods and into the woeful, laborious classical style. {Haha} No, we're having a blast. Even if it takes us five hours to homeschool now. We're doing okay.

And isn't that the great part. You have to do what's best for you, your kids and their education. No homeschool is exactly the same. It's wonderful.

I've also put on my homeschool blinders. I did research during our seven week summer vacation. About two weeks ago I stopped blog hopping and site searching. I've 'favorited' the sites we'll use and I feel meet our needs at this time. I can't look at anything else unless I feel we need help. I have an addictive personality. No, no, you flatter me, not like you're addicted to my personality but as in I like new things, I like jumping into new boats, bandwagons, what have you. I have to protect my children, myself, our home and our goals. So we'll run our 'race' with a vision in sight. If I'm constantly searching, I'll get so distracted. Blinders on please.

Happy Homeschooling Trails to you.

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