Monday, May 31, 2010

Lead and they will Follow

Albert Einstein said: "I never teach my pupils; I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn."

Recently we visited Zane Grey's cabin in Payson, AZ.  It was the last thing to do that day and we were already tired before we got there.  The kids were miserable from being out in the hot sun and traveling so much.  My 7 yr old at first refused to go in.  I wasn't enjoying myself too much what with the constant whining.  It wasn't looking like this was gonna be a good visit. 

We paid for admission and a very nice docent showed us around the cabin.  He taught for about 30 minutes on the various aspects of the cabin: the signed copy of "Betty Zane" and the fireplace tiles brought down from the original cabin, the typewriter that once belonged to Mr. Grey himself and so many wonderful facts about a really remarkable man.  The kids listened intently, they behaved very well considering how they were before we went in.  Most kids, even mine on occasion, would have been bored out of their minds.  Honestly, I was shocked they were so involved. They asked questions and conversed with the docent.  At the time I was just grateful they were so behaved, but afterwards I was proud. 

As we were leaving the docent asked us if they were homeschooled.  Now, this could go either way.  Either he knew they were homeschooled because they were well behaved or he knew they were homeschooled because they did something bad. Everyone has heard the stereotypes of homeschooled kids.  When we confirmed they were indeed homeschooled we held our breath waiting to hear either good or bad news.  He said, " I thought they were.  They were so well behaved and they actually asked questions and listened.  The public school kids we have come through here never say anything and get in to trouble."  HA! He should have seen them 10 minutes before we got in there!  Talk about miserable!  But I guess I don't give them enough credit.  It was hot, they were tired, they are kids of course they are gonna be miserable and misbehave. 

But what is it about homeschooled kids that they can converse with adults and actually seem to enjoy the learning experience?  I don't know about other homeschooled kids but I know with mine I have made it a point to not teach them but to allow them to learn.  I usually do this by learning myself.  I love to learn, its fun, its exciting, life is better the more I learn.  The kids see me learning, reading, exploring, asking questions and so they do the same thing.  To them the learning does not stop at 3pm.  Everything is a learning experience.  Learning to them is not one sided.  They don't just receive instruction, they actively participate in it. I know there are schools and teachers out there like that and parents who continue with educating their children even after school lets out but for the vast majority of students the learning is left up to 8am to 3pm, Monday thru Friday and only when instructed by a teacher. 

Teach by leading and they will follow.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Do it Yourself

When you are frugal you either learn how to do something yourself or go without.  Life is much better when you don't have to go without.  If you are smart, and I know you are cause you read my blog, there is no reason you can't figure out how to fix things yourself.  Plus, the more you learn the more help you can be to your friends and family. 
We came home from vacation to a broken dryer.  We knew it was the heating element but we didn't know how to fix it, so we called a repair man.  After a $55 service call he said it was indeed the heating element and it would cost $236 to repair.  I laughed.  Literally.  I paid $60 for the dryer, no way was I putting $236 more into it.  We thanked the man for the information and dh got online to find somewhere he could get a part of the dryer himself.  $80 and 3 hours later our dryer was again running.  Its a virtually identical to the story of how we learned how to replace the dog ears in a washing machine.  Now some things are gonna be more complicated, like replacing the computer parts in a new front loader or the entire drum in a dryer and thats when we give in and get a new (to us) whatever we need.  We do sell the thing for parts though.

One thing we noticed about doing things ourselves is that people are more than willing to teach you how to do something.  We didn't have to pay a dime to have someone show us how to switch out 3 or 4 prong cord for a dryer, or how to replace the filters in an RO system or how to remove a toilet to extract a toy.  People respect the desire to learn and people love to teach what they know.  Watch what the repair man do as they are fixing something, go to a parts store and ask them how to replace it yourself.  Don't be afraid to ask questions.  If you expect your children to ask questions so they can learn, you should demonstrate that by doing it yourself.  Be sure to show your children how you repair things while you do the work.  Someday they will have to do it themselves and will have the confidence to try before they call that repair person. 

Don't be afraid to try repairing something yourself.  Worse case, you need to call someone anyway.  And if you learn how to do it you can help someone in the future. 

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Camp Fire Stories

If ever you are sitting around a fire with your kids you should tell them stories.  Its a lost art.  It helps if you have a good imagination, not just for listening but for hearing.  If you can't think up something on your own, here is one from my dh that he told our kids around the campfire.

The Princess and the Troll

There once was a beautiful Princess who fell prey to an evil Troll.  The Troll kidnapped the Princess and took her back to his lair. Fortunately for her 10 brave knights decided to rescue the princess.  They set off for the Troll's lair, each carrying a magical sword. The magic was unique to each knight and had special properties just for that knight.  As they approached the Troll's lair the he came out to confront the knights.  The knights stood fast and brave, ready to fight.  In one fell swoop 3 of the knights vanished.  Eaten by the Troll for the Troll was fast as lightening and had an enormous mouth.  The rest of the knights were as resolved as ever, now to avenge the death of their comrades as well as to save the Princess.  Then just as quickly as the first time, another 3 knights were gone.  Yet, the knights stood brave and strong and tried to fight the terrible Troll.  But they also were eaten by the Troll.  One last knight stood before the Troll, all around him were the swords of the fallen knights.  Then the Troll spoke to the last knight, "You are pathetic.  You are so slllooowww.  I will eat you also and then have the Princess for dessert."  The Knight thought for a minute, 'You know I don't know this Princess real well and I don't want to be someones dinner.  So I think I give up.'  He then threw his sword on the ground and ran away home.  Then End. 

Thats what you call a twist ending.  My 9 yr old son says he doesn't like twist endings.  Hope it made you laugh. 

Friday, May 28, 2010

Camping with Kids

Camping with kids is great.

Now that you have caught your breath from laughing so hard let me elaborate.  My kids got to watch an adult cicada emerge from its shell.  From first seeing it on the tree to watching the wings and then the abdomen emerge. Discovery Channel has nothing on the real deal out doors in the woods.

We went to a fish hatchery and watched them load the trucks with trout.  We asked the workers where the fish were headed and wouldn't you know it but they were stocking the creek we were camping at.

The dh told stories by the campfire in the pitch black night.  My children had never seen a night so dark and there was even a full moon. There was no glow from near by city, there was no lights anywhere except by the fire and if you had a flash light.  They could still see though, they could see the story in their heads like it was their own personal tv.

The kids traipsed around the camp site with guns and sticks and used their imagination like never before.  There was no tv or computer to interrupt them.  They got dirty and it was ok, there was no need to go clean up.  They never had to come in for dinner, they ate it right off the fire.  They were in their element.

Yes, Camping with kids is great.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A little something

While I am spending time with my babies, heres something that will make you want to run out and spend time with yours.

Ladies, go hug your kids. Hug them everyday. Don't let the other crap in the world get in the way. Don't ever get to the point where you can't remember the last time you said "I love you" or the last time you hugged them.

Monday, May 24, 2010

With whom I share my life

I am reminded of the poem Seventh in which the author observes:
So many eyes are blinded
by the whispers of this world--
to them, there is no miracle
in a human life unfurled.

A baby's just a plaything,
a burden, or a chore,
and we must proceed with caution
to prevent too many more!

How many people want to have a baby but don't want the child?  How many find it exciting to be pregnant, to get that attention a precious baby brings but once they become a toddler they get annoyed with the parenting.  And how many people assume every parent must think the children are a burden because they do.  

I, for one, find the 'unfurled human life' precious.  I realize the challenges that will come with each day of parenting.  I know its not gonna be all gummy smiles and sloppy kisses.  I know there are hard times and sleepless nights.  I know children are messy and gross and destructive and aggravating.  Yet, it all pales in comparison to sharing the rest of my life with them.  To having 8 people whom I can love forever.  To know that they are forever connected to me because I choose to have them. 

Think of just 1 person that you would cry over, that your heart would break for, if they were gone today.  Think of how much they mean to you, how much you love them, how much mean in your life.  Imagine your future, with them there and if they were gone.  I wanted to have lots of people like that in my life.  I didn't have 8 kids just because I wanted to have a cute little baby to dress up, or a child to raise to be the perfect person whom I could live vicariously through.  I didn't have children because someone told me to or because someone expected me to.  I wanted a life full of love and joy.  To have those types of people in my life; that I can spend the rest of my days with, that would break my heart if they were gone. 

Its such an honor that God gave me 8 with whom I share my life.  And I hope I honor Him in return my loving what He gave me with my whole heart. 

Friday, May 21, 2010

Not Funny

Someone, not naming name or nothing, has a wicked sense of humor.  I, for one, am not laughing.  Amused perhaps but not laughing.  You might recall my letter to Santa and my New Years Resolutions in which:
I want to loose weight.  And please, I don't want this gift to come in the form of an illness in which I can't eat  or lapse into a coma. 
 Make money.  I want to make money, so I can spend it on a vacation.  Dh has a little more than 2 weeks of vacation time before September 1st.  And dang it we are gonna use it.  I just need to fund it.
Now, before I go on, Santa did bring me a sofa, so we are cool on that.  And I have kept all my other New Years resolutions besides that dang quilt.  But on these two items, perhaps I was not specific enough.  I said I didn't want to loose weight because of an illness or coma.  I should have added infection, teeth extraction and death in the family.  First, I have an infection so I am eating apple sauce and soup, then I have teeth extracted and am eating apple sauce and soup, then my nephew passed away and I can't eat at all!  And yes I lost 10 pounds and 2 dress sizes.  I'd rather have the weight than to have been through all that ... not saying I want it back. Just saying being fat would have been a preference to going though all that. 

And this travel thing,  I meant all of us traveling.  Dh got a nice check for back pay, so we made the money we were looking to make and we spent it on traveling.  On him traveling out of state to a funeral.  Thats not how I wanted this to work.  Yes, I am glad we had the money to pay for the trip and there is no worthier cause, but Lord I would rather have my nephew than a trip around the world. 

So Lord, new prayers: Keep us healthy, keep us safe, let us enjoy the world you gave us and be with us through each trial. Be merciful Lord. I appreciate there is no coincidences but circumstances could be less cruel. 

Now, If you don't mind I have to go see if I actually have sweats to take on vacation.  Now, thats a good problem!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Just when you think you have things figured out

Someone comes along and throws a wrench in the works.  This someone is my 3 yr old.  I have successfully (obviously cause everyone figures it out eventually)  potty trained 6 children, and then there was #7.  Oh sure I tried all the tricks I had up my sleeve.  I did the rewards and the timer and getting the big kids to help out to no avail.  No, he was a stubborn little bugger.  He knew how to do it, that wasn't the problem.  In fact he could get himself dressed since he was 18 months old.  Hes been changing his own diaper for quite some time too.  No this was a me against him battle.  He knew I wanted him to do it so therefore he didn't want to do it.  I had to come up with a whole new plan, because everything I was doing was making it worse.  Nothing says love like pooping in underwear and then sitting on your furniture. 

So I decided I would talk to him.  I know it sounds so Hippie Dippie.  What I told him was that I knew he was a big boy and that he could act like a big boy and I wouldn't treat him like a baby any more.  He needed to wear underwear like daddy and go on the potty like daddy.  Hes had one accident in a week.  My little man is Mr. Independent, I've talked about him before.  He wants to do everything the big people do.  I realized I was treating him all wrong. I talked to him like a big person and he responded with his usual independent flair, he was gonna do it all himself. I have not had to remind him to go potty.  There has been no timer and no requests to  help him wipe.  Just one little word of suggestion, if your little one complains of a stomach ache you should tell them they should go sit on the potty.  Cause if not they will have an accident. 

Now I have to go buy more underwear, I don't have enough for 2 boys in the same size.  What a great problem to have!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Tips for Grieving

On Saturday we had a death in the family and its brought up a whole host of issues.  Death is an inevitable part of life.  Some of us will experience it with more frequency than others, but eventually you will have to face it.  Here are a few things I have learned along the way that have helped me as I grieve.

1. Its ok to grieve.  This can be a hard one if your whole life you have been  told that the opposite is true.  Growing up I was never allowed to grieve.  My mother and grandmother (I am sure it was the German drill sergeants in them) would always give me a reason why it was not acceptable for me to grieve.  I was not close enough to the person, others were closer and we need to be strong for them.  We were just friends, family comes first.  Oh there was a whole host of reasons, all of them bad.  Its ok to grieve.  Its ok if someone knew them better, the person who died still left a hole in your life.  When you grieve you heal and when you grieve you show others how much that person meant to you.  Go ahead and grieve.

2. Children have the right to grieve too.  We try to shield our children from pain and suffering.  Sometimes more because we don't want to grieve and have to support them at the same time while they grieve.  Death will find them eventually, give them the ability to deal with it when the time comes.  When a child mourns they needs their friends just like an adult who needs friends when they face a loss.  If your child or a child you know has faced a loss, let them see their friends.  They are not a burden, they won't think its a play date, they do understand the situation, allow them to grieve too. 

3. The pain won't kill you.  In the face of pain you try to run away from it, to think about something else,  to medicate it away or drink it away or work it away, anything not to feel.  Its ok to face the pain, it won't kill you.  If you face the pain eventually it subsides and the healing starts.  And all the people who surround you, they are there to help you through it. 

4. Its ok to laugh.  I imagine the person who passed away would not want to see you sitting there crying your days away anyway.  Its ok to laugh while you retell stories of your loved one.  Its ok to laugh, it doesn't mean your pain is gone, it doesn't mean you don't love enough, it doesn't mean people will stop supporting you.  Its ok to remember the good times and smile.  Its preferable you do that than to dwell on the doubts, the what ifs, the regrets.  Remember them and smile. 

5.  If you can't attend the funeral, you can hold your own.  No, its not weird.  Its healing.  Release some balloons in honor of the loved one, plant a tree or make a donation in their name, make a picture slide show in their memorial, write a poem in their honor or write down all your memories of the person while it is fresh and save them. You will feel better to do something because its just natural to feel helpless and like you have no closure. 

6. In time the pain starts to go away, know thats ok.  It does not mean that you don't love that person any less or are forgetting them.  It means you are healing.  You aren't meant to hurt forever.  Don't worry, you will never forget.  There will come a day when you will realize you hadn't thought about them in hours or days and thats ok too.  All the things they taught you, all your memories, are still there and will remain forever. 

7. No two people grieve in the same way, and thats ok too.  You don't have to grieve like the next person.  If sobbing is your thing that fine, but if you are stoic and emotionless thats ok too.  If people can't handle how you are dealing with the loss just remind them that its your loss to feel the way you can best deal with it.  Some people will move through the process faster than others.  Some will delay it for years by running from it, others can be past it rather quickly while your pain is still near and fresh. 

I hope this helps someone as they face the unfortunate situation. If you have anything helpful to add please do.

Friday, May 14, 2010

It was....Soap poisoning

The baby ate soap.  He won't eat peas, he threw those on the floor.  He chews up and spits out apples.  But soap he will bite into, not just once but several times.  Really?  Do I cook that badly?

Extra points if you know where I got the title for the post.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Some things I learn this week

If your dh says, "Don't worry.  Just rest.  I will take care of everything."  That means, "tomorrow when I am not here you will have twice as much to do".  Actually he will clean and cook and take care of the kids, but not to your standards.  To his standards.  Look at his desk, his car, his side of the closet.  Do you really want him leaving the house to his standards?  Me either. 

When your dentist says there will be some discomfort after your teeth are removed that means you will be wishing you were knocked out for an entire week.  He prescribed Vicodin, this isn't tylenol worthy pain.  The next time someone tries the line, "You get numbed for dental procedures why would you not for childbirth." I will laugh in their face and say, "Give me childbirth unmedicated ANY day over dental procedures medicated."

If you ask someone their experience with extractions and they say, "It was fine I had no problems."  what they are remembering are their own Vicodin filled days. Knowing my husband he was probably asleep for 5 days and dreamt he was fine. 

If you have just had your teeth out and your father tells you, "I am so glad I never got any wisdom teeth."  You can hit him.  Blame the drugs. 

Friday, May 7, 2010

Just a quick post

To let you all know that I did indeed survive having my teeth removed.  Being knocked out for the procedure was the best decision ever. I highly recommend it. 

So things I have found amazing.  In 3 days I have not blown my nose, sneezed or yawned.  I didn't know you could just decide not to do those things.  While I am hungry my body knows I can't eat so its been very happy with the yogurt and soup I have had.  No stomach growling or pain associated with hunger like I expected.

Some advice, if you have wisdom teeth and they are coming in straight its easier to have them out once they are in then to have them out before they break through.  My 2 that were in were much less painful and didn't require stitches.  Its just a basic tooth removal.  If you need your wisdom teeth out do it when you can, don't wait.  Because then you will have an infection to deal with, then the removal so you will have lots and lots of pain.  When all the planets align (money, time and health) get your teeth out.  Trust me on this.  I have had 2 weeks of not being able to eat, followed by surgery and probably another 2 weeks not being able to eat.  And I like to eat so this is awful.  For mothers day I get apple sauce and yogurt! I'm thrilled. (and I lost all of 5 lbs!  Not fair. You would think I would loose more.)

So all you ladies out there who get to have steak or chocolate for mothers day, enjoy it for me.  *sigh*

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Picture of the Day - Don't forget your drinkin' belt

Found this at a thrift store.  I say if you need this, you might need rehab.  Esp if you are the "Any Load".  Beer belly might be a bit kind.  Just Sayin'.

I am off to get oral surgery bright and early in the am. Pray for me, I hate dentists. In case I am not back online after a day or two don't assume the worst, I am just hiding under the bed.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Super Mom

Last night I was taking off my clothes for bed.  I pulled my arms into my shirt and flung it over my head and then it just sat there.  I tried to see what the problem was, of course this was on my back so I felt like a dog chasing its own tail.  I pulled on my shirt to see where it was stuck, I was thinking on my hair clip.  But when I pulled on it it just pulled me back wards.  So I pulled it to the side and saw what the problem was.  Somehow, I have no idea how, I managed to clip my nursing bra to the hanger straps in my shirt.  Not just one but both sides!  Here I was, a grown woman, standing there with a shirt on her back like some super hero.  Perhaps Gods own way of indeed confirming I am a super mom.  Or maybe confirming I am really weird and these types of things don't happen to sane people.  I did not however, run around the room with the shirt flapping behind me.  I did though rush out to the loft to show the dh.  Don't worry, he already knows I am weird.  The neighbors now do too. 

The baby can open doors.  Isn't that great?  Yea, not so much.  Today he left the back door open and let in a million flies.  No, I swear it was a million.  Maybe a billion.  These things are everywhere.  My 4 yr old announced he wishes God never made flies.  Not to worry, my 6 yr old and 3 yr old came to the rescue with the fly swatters. It wasn't long before I hear my 3 yr old yelling at the flies, "FLY.  FLY.  Stay still Fly."  My 6 yr old was quick to correct him, "Have patience, Ewan."  Yoda immediately flashes into my mind, "Have patience young Jedi."  It does not help that Ewan was named after Ewan McGregor.  Give that kid a light saber, hes ready to kill the imperial forces.  Just wanted to erase all doubt- I am indeed weird. 

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Finally, a highchair

When we were down town today we drove by our favorite thrift store.  Outside they had a ton of furniture so we had to stop.  The last time we were there they had no furniture, now they had so much it was all out side.  I quickly spotted a dresser I liked and some chairs.  Only problem, we couldn't fit everything in the van and we didn't have time to go home, unload and come back.  So I couldn't get the set of chairs I wanted.  But I did find 2 I liked for even less.  We could fit 2 chairs and the dresser.  So I got the 2 chairs and a dresser for $38.  We have been using folding chairs at our dining table for a year.  I would have loved to have gotten that set.  This replaced one folding chair and now we had one for the baby. 

So I bought a booster seat for him.  Its nothing like I wanted but its really cheap!  You know I like cheap.  And since I am not even fertile yet who knows if or when we will ever have another baby.  Did I mention it was cheap? And the best part?  I can push the chair, with the booster on it, right under the table.  We have so much more room now.  And the baby seems to really like it. 

Now I have to figure out who to give the dresser to.  #6 and #7 are sharing a dresser right now.  So are the girls.  So who gets it?  I have a feeling the girls will end up with it.  Wish they had had 2 of those!