Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Lately I haven't felt too much like blogging. I'm still reading other people's blogs, but I haven't felt inspired to write much of anything.

I could blame being busy, but I really think it has more to do with the cooler weather moving in and the beginning of a new season. Saying good-bye to the dog days of sun and summer causes me to shift my food focus and allows me to appreciate things that, in the summer, I might not appreciate quite as much, like Erin's homemade, canned applesauce

and my homemade marinara, made with fresh summer tomatoes all the more.

It's a little early for seasonal affective disorder to hit, but I can still enjoy its cure of comfort food, no?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Hank Turns Eight

Today our little Hanker turns eight-years-old. I actually can sort of believe it; eight isn't so far of a jump from seven. He's getting older; that fact stares me in the face every day lately.

So, as it happens, he is now eight. The little bundle of smiles with a mop of silky, yellow hair atop his head is now a young boy, still full of smiles, but with hair that is darker and more coarse.

We recounted the harrowing (and long-winded on my part) tale of his birth this morning over breakfast; a birthday ritual.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Happy Birthday, Elisabeth!

This little stinker, still sitting right next to me chomping on her bagel with cream cheese, is five years old today.

Tonight, to celebrate, we will feast on tacos and cupcakes, all yet unmade.

But, right now, today is all about Ellie. Here she is, Ellie though the years. And, what's more, the story of the day we met the little booger.

Happy Birthday, sweet, sweet, Elisabeth Jane!

ETA: Merciful heavens, I just ran across this video of Elisabeth that was taken when she was about fifteen months old. The pajamas she's wearing are the same ones Caroline wore last night! Anyway, it's super, super cute.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Big Picture

Wake. Get dressed. Referee fights. Cook. Clean up. Drive. Teach. Referee fights. Teach. Drive. Cook. Teach. Clean up. Referee fights. Teach. Laundry. Referee fights. Kick kids outside. Clean up. Sit down. Correct schoolwork. Plan dinner. Referee fights. Visit with friends outside. Cook. Clean up. Sit down. Fall asleep.

This is my day. Every day, the same, with little to no variation. It's enough to drive a person mad.

And yet, I would choose nothing else right now. As I have said before, I am not especially qualified to do this. My credentials are my faith in myself to learn when necessary and my love for my children that refuses to fail them. Home-schooling this particular batch of boogers is, by far, the most challenging job I have ever had. It is far more difficult than I ever imagined it might be. It is also far more rewarding.

So, the days blend together. There are standout moments, both good and bad ones, interspersed throughout the days. But, mostly, the days blur together in the sort of sameness that pushes so many home-schooling parents I talk to right up to the edge of insanity.

Fun-filled, personally fulfilling days, though, are not the goal, or at least they're not mine. The goal, for me, is intelligent, confident children who are interested in life and what it has to offer, are able to learn things on their own when those curiosities arise and are able to, intellectually, fulfill their vocational responsibilities, whatever they might be, when they're adults.

Yet, still, I could deal with fewer chances to play referee each day.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Rearranged Living Room

Wednesday afternoon Madeleine and I decided, on a whim, to rearrange our living room.

Some people find an arrangement they like and they stick with it. I get bored, and like change and so I rearrange furniture from time to time.

Here is is, our newly arranged living room. I am rather happy with how it all feels and looks.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Ah, sleep, sweet sleep

In their sleep, the children recharge and escape the monotony of their daily play and fun.

In their sleep, I gain peace and fortitude to endure for the remainder of their waking hours.

Sleep-- theirs, more than mine, is a gift, especially when it comes in the form of an unexpected nap.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Book Round Up, October 2010

Lots more reading going on here now that school has started. I'd still like to see Joe and me doing more reading in our free time, but painting and hanging drywall in the basement have been consuming our evenings of late, so not too terribly much reading has been happening.


I must confess, I never did start The Last of the Mohicans. I meant to, but then I just wasn't in the mood anymore. Instead I got sidetracked by a few of these lovely biographies that I hadn't read before, and Thomas Jefferson, Abigail Adams (which I'm still reading, actually) and Ben Franklin kept me from Fenimore Cooper's book. Once was I was fully immersed in the Revolutionary War era, both in school with the kids and in reading, I officially took Mohicans off my to-be-read pile.

A couple years ago Joe and I watched the John Adams miniseries based on David McCullough's most excellent biography of America's second president. We loved it and, ever since, I've wanted to read the book. I feel like I barely have time to read it, but when I do squeeze in a few pages here and there I am loving it; it is wonderfully readable and I love all the snippets of Adams' own words interspersed. The only test might be finishing it before the library wants it back!

I am also reading Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, which Madeleine read last month and loved. I read a chapter here and there and, she was right; it's quite lovely and I can't imagine what little girl wouldn't enjoy the tale.


For school Madeleine is reading Born in the Year of Courage, which she is not crazy about. She just came off of reading Red Sand, Blue Sky by Cathy Applegate and she loved that and it's hard for a new book to measure up.

For pleasure reading, Madeleine, as usual, has an array of books going. She's been re-reading the Little House books again and she's reading Little Farm in the Ozarks, which is the series about Laura's daughter, Rose. I think this might be a first read for this particular book and she is, as I expected, tearing through and enjoying it. She's also been tearing through some of her old reliable series: Allie Finkle, Lemony Snicket, etc. Lastly, she discovered the Runaway Dolls series and she has been highly recommending them to her friends.


Hank has actually been reading, on his own and without complaining. He's gravitating towards things I would not choose for him, but he's reading-- for fun!-- so I'll keep my mouth shut. He loves the Geronimo Stilton books and Spiderman comic books. He's also a big Beverly Cleary fan and has just about wrapped up Ralph S. Mouse.

For school he's reading Vostaas: White Buffalo's Story of Plains Indian Life. He gives the book two thumbs down. "Moo-oooom! It's not even a story! It's just a bunch of facts."


On an audiocassette, we have been listening to Ben and Me by Robert Lawson, which is the wonderful story of a mouse, Amos, who moves in with Ben Franklin. Think Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence? I bet his mouse friend, Red, might disagree...

Fellow home-schoolers, I can't rave enough about books on tape. It's so easy to find wonderful, classic stories that overlap with whatever period you're studying in history and they're such an enjoyable way to relax for twenty to thirty minutes every day, as a family.

I'm also still reading the Wizard of Oz aloud to the kids. We're averaging a pathetic chapter a week, maybe two, at best. Still, though, we are enjoying it when we do find time to read 


Elisabeth-- er, Ellie-- always enjoys being read to. She has a stack of books she checked out from the library and her clear favorite that we have read, I think, no less than eight hundred and twelve times is Beatrix Potter's Fierce Bad Rabbit.


Joe also has struggled to find time to read and is still working through This is My Body, just like he was last month. He's been enjoying it immensely when he's hard time to dig into it but it's very heady book and it's taking him awhile to work through.

So, book suggestions! What are you all reading?

Monday, October 04, 2010


From the get-go Joe and I agreed the name Elisabeth was a mouthful and assumed we would, at some point, agree on a shorter nickname. We discussed the various choices: Beth, Liz, Lizzie and Libby. Nothing stood out, so we tabled the discussion. Someday, we assumed, she would chose a nickname for herself.

Time went by. We grew accustomed to calling her Elisabeth, and thoughts of nicknames fell away from our thoughts; to us, she became Elisabeth, and Elisabeth only.

Lately Elisabeth has started naming all of her favorite stuffed animals Ellie. When she plays princesses she chooses the name Ellie for herself. All games of make believe have her choosing a new name for herself: Ellie. Ellie, Ellie, Ellie all the time.

It's fitting that she has found the only nickname I am aware of for Elisabeth that we never really considered.

Today in the midst of one of her games, I heard her, quite crossly, say to Madeleine, "STOP calling me Elisabeth! I don't like that name! Call me Ellie!"

I asked her if she really liked the name Ellie. She said she did, and that she preferred it to Elisabeth. I then asked her if she knew that Ellie really was a nickname for Elisabeth. She didn't but, man oh man, her eyes lit up like fireworks on Independence Day. "It is?" she asked incredulously.

I affirmed that it was and, that if she wished, she can tell people her name is Elisabeth but that she prefers to go by Ellie.

The question is, will any of us be able to make the switch?