Wednesday, April 27, 2011


"Mom! When are you going to feed me breakfast???"

"I did feed you breakfast. You ate three waffles."

"That wasn't breakfast, that was a snack! Can I have oatmeal now?"

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Making do

I've been feeling very cramped in our two-bedroom condo, lately. It seemed that there just wasn't ever enough space to give to the children that needed it (much less myself!) The boys were fighting a lot because they just seemed to bump into each other too much...and often literally! I was tired of breaking up fights, and tired of quiet time not really being quiet - with three boys in one bedroom, quiet time really had become one more hour of "Mom, he hit me!" "Mom, he's making noise so I can't hear the story!" "Mom, make him stop!"

For awhile we seriously considered buying a larger house. We had a realtor helping us, and we actually found a perfectly beautiful house that I loved. We almost offered on it, but ended up deciding that the financial risks involved (especially the need to rent our current condo) were more than we were comfortable with.

So since we're still here, in our feeling-tiny condo...we're getting creative and making do. Last week we moved half the bedroom furniture around. Now Josiah and Thomas are sharing the "kid" bedroom, with Thomas on the top bunk and Josiah on the bottom. The changing table with both boys' clothes is also in there now, along with most of the toy bins.

Jonathan is sharing our bedroom. We've shifted some of our furniture so that there is room in what used to be the "crib corner" for a toddler mattress for him. The bureau with his clothes has been moved in, as well as his little table/desk and chair. And I rearranged our linen closet so that he has his very own shelf to keep his special lego and other toys.

I think that it is going to work out beautifully. Josiah and Thomas don't bother each other as much as Jonathan and Thomas do, so sharing a room works better for them. They're also the kids that are more likely to need a nap during the day, and who go to bed earlier in the evening.

Giving Jonathan his very own space in our room makes him feel special and meets his strong need for personal space. He can go into our room and close the door without shutting the other boys out of their room/play space. While there are obvious downsides (lack of personal space for Gabe and I, primarily!) I think that overall this is going to be much better for the family.

And it won't be for forever. We're planning to do this for two years: pay down our mortgage as fast as possible (Dave Ramsey style) and then move out of state to somewhere prettier, roomier, and cheaper (probably Oregon). I like having a plan, especially one that Gabe and I are both in agreement on.

Until then, we're making do!

What we've been doing...

My mother and sister have been talking about me behind my back. They agree that I don't blog about our doings often enough. :)'s what we've been up to in the past few weeks:

Jonathan turned 6!

We had a fun, laid back party at a local park.

Fed the ducks.

Played Duck, Duck, Goose. (Yes, me too!)

I love doing park parties. They're not wildly expensive, I can throw one together in about a week, and everyone has a blast.

We're doing a lot of homeschooling. I feel like we're finally hitting our stride there (finally!) and I'm enjoying it.

We caught a caterpillar and made a house for it in a jar. Within the first hour it escaped through the air hole (???) and I found it crawling across the table! We put it back and gave it smaller escape air holes. But in the evening Jonathan was very concerned that the caterpillar would be lonely for his family. So we let him go home. :)

We're working our way through the list of thank you notes for writing and art:

Math pages every day (aw, MOM!)

And the most wonderful field trip ever; a working farm!

Jonathan even got to milk a cow!

For the last week we've been following up the field trip with related activities. We've learned about wool; all the processes that take it from the sheep to the jacket. And we made butter out of cream! (Mom, remember when we did this? I do!)

It was delicious. :)

Josiah isn't doing "school" but boy is he learning! He figured out how to use a hammer:

And loves to "make soup" outside while I'm cooking.

Thomas has his very own workbook (he loves to "do school"!) and of course, comes along on field trips. He's loving being in preschool.

That's more or less our life right now! Celebrate the special days, explore the world, and (I) try to keep on top of the laundry pile. :)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The good guys always win

We've been watching Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as a family for the last few days. This afternoon we got to the first really frightening part, and Thomas was distressed. "I'm scared that the soldiers are going to kill the good guys," he told me during dinner.

"I'm going to let you in on a secret, Thomas," I said. "Is it a good story if the good guys get killed?"


"Do you think that the people who made the movie wanted it to be a good story?"

"Um," he thought for a moment..."yes!"

"So do you think that the good guys are going to get killed?"

Thomas' eyes absolutely lit up as he cried "No!!!"

You've just got to love Socratic reasoning with a four year old. :)

Homeschooling lecture by Susan Wise Bauer

Last night and this afternoon I listened to a lecture by Susan Wise Bauer (of The History of the World fame). She was speaking on "Homeschooling the Real (Distractable, Impatient, Argumentative, Unenthusiastic, Non-Book-Loving, Inattentive, Poky, Vague) Child".

Don't you just want to hear that? :)

I have a tendency to imagine that homeschooling is just going perfectly in every home but my own. Especially in the homes of people like Susan Wise Bauer! It is kind of nice to have that little fantasy smooshed. In fact I do not have the only argumentative unenthusiastic non-book-loving child in the homeschooling world!

Her main suggestion was this (paraphrased, of course):
Look beyond the symptoms (argumentative, restless, etc.) to the character trait (which could actually be good!) that is manifesting in these symptoms. Then tailor your education to the character trait, instead of just pushing against the problem.
Then she gives lots and lots of specific strategies, including one which she calls “nibbled to death by ducks”. You'll have to listen or you'll forever wonder what that means. :)

And toward the end, the reminder (paraphrased):
Don’t forget that you are free. You don’t have to do school for 12 years, or for a certain number of months, or in a certain order. As long as you’re moving toward a definable goal, you can do anything you want.
(Coming from the woman who wrote The Well Trained Mind, that was especially freeing to hear!)

All that to say that I highly, highly recommend this lecture for anyone currently homeschooling. It is a well-spent $3.25.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

National Geographic Little Kids DEAL!

My boys think that getting magazines in the mail is THE coolest thing EVER. We get the free Lego magazine (sign up here if you haven't already) and we've purchased subscriptions (Ranger Rick, etc.) for them as gifts in the past. They just love it.

So I was really pleased to see this deal that Mamapedia is offering TOMORROW (April 14th): a one year (6 issue) subscription to National Geographic Little Kids magazine for only $10. If you've never purchased from Mamapedia before, it gets even better: you can use the coupon code NATGEO3 to lower the price to only $7. (I've also heard that you can use MOMS5 to take $5 off the purchase price, but I can't confirm that one personally.)

(If you aren't a first-time buyer, you can use the code EASTER10 to take 10% off, making the price $9)

Something I like about Mamapedia is that every time you make a purchase through them, 5% off the price gets donated to a charity of your choice, and it is easy to choose a charity and set that up.

Full disclosure: if you purchase through my link, I get $10 in referral credit. But I honestly think that this is a great deal - we're buying it - and I hope that the information is useful to some of my readers!

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Awesome Biola

A couple of weeks ago, I got a call from a sweet college student from Biola. We were in the midst of bedtime, so I told Christine that I'd be happy to talk with her, but could she please call back in 20 minutes? She did so, and we ended up donating a modest amount to the Biola Scholarship Fund.

I expected a receipt for tax purposes, of course, but look what we received!

A formal letter from the Biola Alumni office (including our credit receipt), a handwritten note from Christine, and a post it note from an acquaintance who works in the office!

Gabe and I were seriously impressed. That is the way to get repeat donors! Good job, Biola - we're happy to invest in your future and that of your students.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Bidding frenzy?

Currently on ebay:

$5 amazon gift card
Current bid: $10.50

$10 amazon gift card
Current bid: $31.00

$25 amazon gift card
Current bid: $53.00

$50 amazon gift card
Current bid: $102.50

I keep hearing how Americans aren't very good at math, but this seems on the outside of crazy!

(Perhaps I should start selling gift cards on ebay...!)

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Sweet little voice

Something I'm loving right now? Josiah learning to sing. He sings with me at bedtime: "Baby Mine, don't you cry..." ("cryyyyyy"). He sings to himself while playing during quiet time. Right now a favorite seems to be "Happy Birthday", although all that is actually sung is "happy birthday, yoooouuu..." This morning we went house-hunting, and on the way he sang "house, house, house, house, house..." on a different note each time. I just heard, from the bedroom, "Jesus loves me, Bible tells me so..."

I think baby voices, singing, is one of my favorite sounds in the whole world.