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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

ninja math and the north star

So. In the midst of my when-will-it-be-spring-woe-is-me melodrama we have managed to get on quite well in our homeschooling efforts.

I've started in on a new sort of rhythm, with multiple subjects in short bits every day, rather than dwelling on our letter journey, etc as we did in the early part of the school year.

It seems to be working, and I know it is when I hear little man shriek READ ANOTHER CHAPTER MAMA!

Nope. Gotta wait until tomorrow!


This makes me feel good.

And me feeling good is what its all about, right?

Ha. Sarcasm.

No, but really, this seems to work well for him. Our school usually looks like this:

Circle Time, right now lots of songs and verses about spring and sunshine and YAY.

Story - for little miss (usually one of the several Elsa Beskow books we've invested in this year. SO CUTE) or perhaps a story acted out with figures. (We did the three little pigs OVER AND OVER earlier in the year)

Math - Some math games (balls back and forth, counting by twos or fives, or a card game where we try to get to 100 first, or taking steps and clapping on every second step, then every third, etc) and math pages for our lesson books, one such as Ninja math. He copies the picture I draw on the board into his math main lesson book. The idea is beginning to work the concepts of the four math functions, starting with division, thinking about dividing the whole into parts. Ninja math is my take on this, due to little man's obsession with the Lego Ninjago sets. We draw a piece of fruit and then divide it up with our golden swords as many ways as we can. FUN. Ninjas. DIVISION.

A story for little man. Today was Aladdin and the Magic Lamp. We just finished reading through "The Wise Enchanter" which is a story about four children on an alphabet adventure, very similiar t the story I did for him. I used it as a way to introduce small letters.

Reading skills - Alphaphonics. We are working our way through this great learning to read resource. Really basic short lessons.

Copy work - We are copying Psalms 23 into a little main lesson book, working on writing in small letters.

Nature Studies - We've been reading through "The Burgess Animal Book for Children" since the fall. We are finally in the section on large predator animals which makes little man happy. HA. Also for free on my favorite website. We also make frequent use of a large nature reference book as we see things around our land.

Home geography - All about the world around us, covering basic geography and science. Found (for free!) on my favorite website, here. A really great simple lesson for each day with copy work for his main lesson book (I simplify the sentences quite a bit) So far we've studied directions, and the north star


History - We are reading from a book I received from my mom's homeschool collection "A child's history of the world" really engaging simple introduction to history, from ancient until the World Wars.

And then, lots of outside play (FINALLY) and each day's task, usually in the afternoon. A craft on Tuesday. Baking on Wednesday. Painting on Thursday. Games on Friday. (Monday is cleaning. They help!)

And that is where we are at...okay fine, most days. But, really, its been good. Finally feeling in my groove. Which is  nice feeling. Right?

notice cole, jay, kai, lloyd, zane, and nia the ninjas
all at the bottom of the picture. HA HA.

Friday, April 26, 2013

spring, for real this time

It's 9am and we are outside. It's 50 degrees already!!

I think that this is going to be our norm from now on. Which means I need to create a cozy coffee corner in our garden area. Maybe out of old tree stumps?

And yes, there are still mounds of snow all around, we just don't look there.

Sun! Warm sun!

Oh happy day!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

the egg money jar

Like generations of housewives before me I have started an egg money jar. We've given away plenty of eggs thus far but I just sold my first dozen. Kinda funny in that I've made decent money once upon a time but selling that first dozen feels rather significant.

I'm thinking, saving for a Disney world vacation, in like 20 years. Ha!

Monday, April 22, 2013

little man, little man

He is me. He is my mirror. I wrestle with unease and discontent, and I see it there on his face, pacing the house, snapping at his beloved baby dear for touching his legos, yelling at his sister for not playing the game right, wailing at dada for an extra chapter of his book at night.

We are in a new little man phase. Everything is BIG. So DRAMATIC. So WORTHY OF ALL CAPS. And of course he has been like this since his baby days, wailing in my arms as I pace the hallways. But now, it seems even bigger. His sister goes in to his room and hands him a cookie and I wait for the shriek, "HER IS BIGGER THAN MINE!" We interrupt his play to call him to dinner and you would think we torched his toys and threw them out in the trash. "BUT I AM PLAYING!!! NOOOOOO!!"

There is something about 6 1/2 to 7 though, temperment aside, that is BIG. SO BIG. They are going from a place of fanciful childhood to one that is a little more aware of the world, a little more leery of change and new things and more self aware too, of who they are and who they are in this big world.

Today we leave for the grocery store and he has spent 20 minutes dressing his stuffed dog (insisting that I find soft fabric to make him a shawl, etc) and as we are about to leave he looks up at me with big brown eyes, "But the other kids will laugh and think I am a baby for carrying a stuffed dog!" This is the same little man who would wear a green silkie cape with a necktie to the park because "it looks cool."

And then there is the sense of justice. IT MUST BE FAIR AND EVEN. We play family Uno for 20 pleasant minutes on Sunday night, and the loss of a game he thought he was going to win sends him to the edge. I AM SO STUPID. I HATE HATE HATE IT. (Using all the evil words he knows.)

And then this leads to the need for a new kind of discipline. My default reaction (after wanting to snap or yell some days, I admit) is to want to reason with him. "You won the game before by way more points than me! You cant win every game!" But then he tries to reason back. And it is maddening. No, you cant play the Ipod. "But mom. I havent played the Ipod yet this week. WHY CANT I? Etc. Etc. WHINE WHINE WHINE. WHINE WHINE WHINE" until I want to pull my hair out.

But no, he needs that CALM WALL, as I have written about before. But even more he needs to know that this is how it is. It is not any other way. End of discussion. My new tactic is to not acknowledge the whining. Pretend I cant hear him. Or just to quietly walk away, without a word, moving along with my day. WHINE WHINE. I DONT WANT A BATH. I quietly walk into the bathroom, run the water, take him by the hand and lead him in to the room.

As my favorite parenting blog explains (see this article) we go from needing to redirect behavior or model behavior, as we do with younger children, to a more direct need for affirmation of rules, especially boys, who need to see a "captain of the ship" to exemplify this calm confident behavior.

Taking a step back, I look at myself, a ball of tightly wound need-sunshine-and-green-thing emotions. Not a calm, steady captain of the ship. Not at all.

As dada was saying the other night. He is SUCH a complete person, with all these things going on in his little round head. SO MUCH. ALL THE TIME. And we forget this sometimes. And in the general, its so easy to think about parenting as "managing" kids and their emotions. Instead we need to acknowledge everything going on in his little round head. It is big. BIG even. But its okay. We can figure it out, together. A few days ago after getting through another little outburst he wondered out loud to me "Why is there bad in the world?" And before I could muster up an answer he said this, brilliantly. "My brain just gave me the answer. If there wasnt any bad, there wouldnt be any good." True, very and precisely true, and a huge thought for a little man.

He needs affirmation. He needs reassurance. He needs my best, regardless of my mood.

And at night, I go into his room after he is asleep. I push his thick (too long) hair back from his face, adjust his covers, and whisper in his ear, "You are wonderful. You are special. You are so dear to me." And I can only prays that he sees this in himself. That he knows it now and that he grows up knowing it to be true. And yes, he needs me now, but the world is going to be lucky to have him... once he is 35 and I am ready to let him go that is.

Friday, April 19, 2013

anti-recipe #60 cauliflower pizza crust

So. On my never-ending quest to find a pizza crust option for my non-gluten loving belly.

First off, nothing will replace a regular slice of pizza pie. Nothing will taste the same. NOTHING.

Now that we get that through our heads, well, what will taste good and provide the same cheesy/tomato saucy taste that is just what I need on Friday nights after a long ridiculously dumb week (for the whole country, right??)

And I have tried othr options, utilizing other kinds of GF flour. But, in two words - they suck. Those other options that is. Chewy and weirdly textured, similiar to eating cardboard with cheese on it.

Not nice.

And then - HOPE.

I see on Pinterest this "gluten free/paleo cauliflower pizza crust" with captions like "to DIE for" etc etc. And. So. Finally I try it.

Well, fine, dada made it the first time.



So, I just made it tonight for the first time myself and thought I'd share so you too can enjoy guilt (pain) free pizza on this Friday night after a long crappy week.

Here you go.

SO, all the recipes I saw used fresh cauliflower. I had frozen. But it works!

Use a whole bag (this will make two crusts). Cook in the microwave for 4 or so minutes, or on the stove whatever, until just warmed. Now shred with a shredder (ricer, all the recipes say. Who owns a ricer? Not this mama.) Now get some paper towel and drain/blot out as much moisture as you can.

Okay? Now add two eggs and two handfuls of shredded moz. Maybe a cup. Dash of oregano or basil. Some garlic salt. Now press onto two stoneware baking sheets (spread some olive oil on first) Use your hands to form into nice THIN round shapes.

Now bake at 450 until golden brown. Top with sauce/cheese and etc. Bake again until cheese is melty.


GO TRY IT. Then thank me later (and Pinterest, HA HA)

a milestone of motherhood

Sweeping up the kitchen just now and realize I have reached a new milestone in my journey as a mother.

I no longer bend over to rescue stray Legos out of the dustpan.

They get dumped.
Thursday, April 18, 2013

an alphabet walk in nature

Yes, being in nature is great for kids. Sometimes its good to have an activity to keep them looking around, noticing things, instead of just running like wild children, waving sticks and screaming, (which we do a lot of too obviously). So. An alphabet walk, in nature. Some letters are missing, but we really had fun with this idea. (And it is snowing again right now and we are supposed to have up to ten inches and I have no internal motivation to layer up the kiddies to go outside and find the letter G. I am too peeved with nature. HA.)

look mama, an F! this is the stick that started the alphabet
walk in nature idea...


slightly staged...
little miss found this one herself!


clearly a staged P.

kind of a q. at this point the kids
were running like wil children with sticks and mama
was doing the nature alphabet walk herself.

and an R...

no T. Huh. or U. oops.

we think this is a pheasant track...

look mama! the shadow makes an x!

the woods are full of Ys

staged, by me, after the children had lost all interest.

Happy letter hunting!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

where i am at thinking of my dear city of Boston, where I spent college and grad school years, where I met dada and left a piece of myself, and trying not to let the kids see me cry when I read the news. But mommy, little man says, what's wrong? No, something is wrong, you have tears! Why?

And the lyrics dont fit, but I keep singing this song in my head, all my thoughts and energies praying for this amazing city by the sea.

Friday, April 12, 2013

hope springs eternal

You know what I am going to write about, right?

The weather.

Because I am boring and because I am tired of this white stuff floating down from the sky, even if it is pretty.

Yes, more snow.

And so, we wait. And we plant seedlings, now resting on our windowsill. And we watch movies, cozied up by the woodstove. And we bundle up - AGAIN - and go out to play in the snow - ONE LAST TIME, AGAIN. And we watch some new birdie friends from the window. And I write. And dada and I talk garden dreams. And, oh! we are buying the frame for a yurt! We hope to put it up this summer, in our back yard! A WRITING YURT! A yurt, can you believe it??



before the dratted snow came back the kids dedicated their outside time to "digging up the garden for mom and dad"

a common redpoll

a purple finch

Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never Is, but always To be blest:
The soul, uneasy and confin'd from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.

-Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man
Tuesday, April 9, 2013


Yesterday was a very Monday Monday. I mean like kids-screaming-since-8am-chicken-chasing-through-the-mud-mama-crying-on-the-phone-to-dada-by-2pm-chocolate-and-glass-of-wine-by-4pm kind of day.

That day.

We all have them. We know they happen. But they still suck.

As I was rocking baby dear to sleep last night I was trying to figure out. What went wrong in the day? Where can I do better tomorrow? I need a plan of action. Like my dad always used to say, have  plan, work a plan.

So. My plan?

Well so far it involves really strong coffee and a better attitude. That helps. I am not flinching when little man interrupts my coffee time on the laptop to read ANOTHER Calvin and Hobbes comic. I let little miss wind yarn all around the kitchen and hallway. ("its a BOOBY TRAP MOM!") And the chickens are now contained in a larger scratch yard and will NOT be free-ranging anytime soon. (It just stresses me out too much, especially as my chickens seem to think its okay to walk down into the woods, or down the road instead of staying in the yard and meadow like proper free ranging chickens should).

So far so good.

And the rest of my plan? Recognizing 1) I really do have some kind of SAD type thing. Its been grey for four days straight. Just recognizing that makes it easier to be, well, easier on myself. 2) Bracing myself for snow. Yes. Snow. They say maybe a foot. Maybe a few inches. But still. Snow. I am trying not to get bogged down about it. (Little miss almost started crying. "But what about the flowers?? King Winter CANT COME ANYMORE!") And like a mantra I repeat in my head the nice things about a snowy day. Hot cocoa. Warm fire. Books. Maybe a Harry Potter movie. Knitting. Okay okay okay. I can do it. BLARGH. 3) A nice kiddie oriented craft. I'm thinking felt flower babies that they help stitch together. Or maybe a large spring mural with flowers made out of tissue paper. 4) Keep it going. Dishes, laundry, school time , a new spring circle time (snow be damned) 5) Let my mind wander to nice things. A few minutes on Pinterest usually does it for me. Gardening. Maybe daydream about a vacation to Florida next winter. 6) Messaging my college friend stuck in a similar locale of snowy-no-spring-up-northness. The snowy Northern mama sisterhood must stick together in these trying times.

Okay. There is my regrouping plan. Do you do this too?

Hoping you all have a for real spring in your neck of the woods, and a happy happy Tuesday.

our garden laid out, its going to be AMAZING.
Friday, April 5, 2013

when i'm not looking

I am sitting in the sunshine, covered in blankets, course.

My kids are playing playmobile knights. Dont you love it when they dig up toys they havent played with in awhile and you are like OH! all that money WAS worth it. Ha.

In any case. Sunshine. Coffee. Lazy Friday morning. You KNOW this is a recipe for a happy Sara.

So, what Ive been thinking about. Mainly just noticing life more. Perhaps the week of sunshine is helping me to open my eyes a little wider, taking it all in. I seem to be catching a lot of precious moments between my kids as they play, from around the corner in the kitchen, as I walk by the bedroom door. Yesterday I caught a glimpse of little man, his head bent over baby toddler dears fuzzy head through the bannister rail as I walked upstairs. He was showing her a book, pointing out the pictures, patting her on the head. And then later in the day, as I walk down the hall, I catch a glimpse of a sister hug and little miss saying. "hey sister? Sister. I love you."

I think there was a time this (loooooooong) winter, where I was observing only to ward off squabbles/chaos. Instead of looking for these magical moments in their interactions I was looking for their opposite, tension, mean words, crabbiness. And you know what they say, when you look for something you see it, you know? And in doing so I missed the blossoming friendships happening between these little people. Baby, who is no longer just a baby but a playmate too. Little miss who brings babies and princesses into pretend play of knights and ninjas. Big brother who actually said to her the other day, "hey, do you want to play princesses? I will play with you!"

And now baby walks up to their elaborate knight/princess set up and says "I wanna guy!" and little man says "oh baby! Here is a guy!" And she smiles. (And yes, we call her baby, and she calls herself baby, I am picturing her at 16, answering to the name still...and learning to dance at a summer camp with Patrick Swayze....HAHAHA.)

To see this play, these interactions, to get to witness lifelong friendships forming,  and not only that but knowing that these relationships will form ther basis for how they interact with the world around them as adults, well, its precious and its a privilege, and its going on under my nose every day.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

spring has sprung

Well, it's springing anyway...

Cold winds are still a'blowing but the sun is shining and the sky is blue and green things are poking up in the dirty dead grass in the yard.


What a long winter!

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