Category: Education

An Experiment

I have begun an experiment.

Issac reading to me outside.
Issac reading to me outside.

Yesterday something occurred that reminded me a lot of my childhood, and me as a child.  It brought out all the self-blame and helplessness in a situation that was really beyond my control.  The thing is I realized that I had been using the same tones and attitudes with my children that has been aimed at me both yesterday and when I was young.  (Being the oldest SUCKS because you hear “you should have known better” and why didn’t you” and “why didn’t you think that THIS could happen” ALL THE TIME and I realized yesterday that that was happening in our home.)  Now I come from a shouty family–my grandmother got ANGRY and shouted, my mom got pretty mad and shouted, and I only shout when I have hit a certain point, but it gets hit a lot more often than I would like and I want to change that.  Which is where the experiment comes in.

This week, starting last night, I am only going to ask (gently and giving them the option whether to do it or not) once regarding anything that needs done. Shamus put the kids in charge of the dishes last fall when the dishwasher broke and it has been fights EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT. and sometimes the dishes still aren’t done the next day which means there is a fight in the morning. No more. I am sick and tired of nagging, cajoling, and having to ask him to tell them to do them because they quit listening to my voice. Basically doing a reboot, partly because I really need to change my own attitude about work if I want them to change theirs, partly because I know I am being my mother way too often and it is hurting my oldest’s heart (the other two follow her example and she is the most deliberate with the not doing what she is told to do.) So I will not tell them to do anything this week– just ask gently and then move along. (Also not telling them about the change.)

So, here is what has happened so far:

Rachel made a knight costume, which quickly changed into a full Minecraft armor plus a creeper costume.

Last night:

  • Asked the kids to do the dishes, no one did (they fought over who should go first) so I went and just did them without a word.
  • Asked, while doing dishes I asked if someone could please check the laundry. They started to fight and I said, “No, I was just asking if someone could, not saying you guys had to.” Essie immediately went and checked but forgot to transfer the laundry. Rach started to berate her and I said it was fine, I was glad to know what needed done down there.
  • A few minutes later asked if someone would go and transfer it, Rach immediately did the job without a word (she seldom works without much nagging.
  • Asked Issac if he wanted to sit and read a book with me and he immediately said yes (sometimes balks) so we read together while the girls played their games.
  • Sat with Rach a bit, asked what she had to do today (she babysits and has things she has to do in order to go). She listed things off and decided (at 10:30pm) that she wanted to get out the school books and practice some things that she would have to help the kids she babysits with on their homework–she did several pages of division, some spelling, practicing her writing while she did (she has beautiful handwriting naturally but gets things backwards due to her severe dyslexia).
  • Essie decided to join her and voluntarily did several pages in a math activity books she found. They had me stay by and check their work (haven’t done this in several years I think.) Both girls were shocked at how much they knew and how many pages they could just skip because they knew how to do everything there.
Our dandelion field.



  • Rach got up, did some more spelling, prepared her food for babysitting, and did everything else she needed to do before she sat down to watch her movie (all without me nagging her).
  • Issac and Esther got up, got dressed, and then helped me gather their dirty laundry.
  • Discovered that Esther PANICS when she has to choose her clothes (which explains why she prefers to spend her day in her pjs.)  So, I put out a weeks worth of outfits with one dress outfit–which made her absolutely thrilled.
  • Any time I have asked someone to do something or help me it has been done immediately and the only fight we have had was between Essie and Issac about who’s turn it was on the computer which was quickly dealt with.

Also noticed–the kids didn’t fight, well, not after the initial my turn, your turn stuff. And because I wasn’t angry already when there were small disputes about balloons I was able to gently remind them that the balloons were private property and each owner had the right to choose how to handle it. So, so far it has been fairly peaceful and Shamus was even surprised at how mcuh work they are actually doing compared to how much when we had to fight it out of them.


Unschooling Life: A trip to the museum

On Sunday we celebrated Purim though not in the traditional way. There are no Messianic Jewish groups nearby and we don’t actually know anyone local who is Messianic in their thinking. So, when I heard about the free day at the Pittsburgh Children’s Museum and remembered how the kids had been begging to go, I thought it was the perfect way to celebrate God’s quiet intervention in our lives. It worked out beautifully because I actually had gas in the van, we had visited my grandmother the previous evening (we usually visit on Sundays), and everything just fell into place.

We do have a membership for the Science Center and Art and Natural History Museum but it doesn’t include the Children’s Museum (despite including all the other big museums in Pittsburgh.) This is really funny because this museum is tiny and more expensive to join than any of the others– it only gives about 3 hours of entertainment versus the others where we can spend the whole day. It is, however, included if you come into Pittsburgh and have a science center membership so make sure to hit it if you do.

I was surprised at the lack of crowd (though it was a beautiful day and the zoo had a free for under 13 day as well– I suspect the zoo was a lot more crowded.) I found it interesting that the vast majority of children there were under 6. There were a few older kids but they mostly hung back and were there with littles. It was also interesting to watch the little s immediately become interested in whatever my bigger kids were doing and that my kids immediately began exploring everything, applying the knowledge they accumulated from my dad, general discussion, books (they love the Dangerous Book for Boys as well as pretty much any experiment book), and tv (mostly Myth Busters, Dirty Jobs, and Rough Science).
Heading to the entrance

I love this shot of the kids. Esther has been waiting a whole year to go back and has been excitedly asking when the next free day was so she ran ahead. Meanwhile Rach (wearing a Hello Kitty Barbarian hoodie) decided to hang back and spend some time with her little brother.

Falling Letters
And this is what Essie had been waiting for, above all the other things there. She spent a good half hour catching letters, which made for some very fun photos (yes, that is me with the camera).

Rachel and Issac exploring magnets in the Creativity Lab.

Magnetic sculpture

Rachel’s magnet sculpture ended up being posted at the museum’s Creativity Lab Blog here. (It is the second photo down.)

Issac, who adores his Snap Circuit sets and spends quite a bit of time playing with electricity loved attempting to make this electro magnet work.

While Issac and Rachel explored magnets in the garage Esther played with sound and wind.

After half an hour or so exploring magnets Issac and Rach climbed the net, tossed some parachutes and then played on the giant slide a bit.

The building area was what Rachel had waited a whole year to use. She loves to invent and build and couldn’t wait to start on the house sshe had designed in her head based on her experience last year. When she started this area was empty.
Within minutes she had help.
Lots of help.
When they were finally tired of that room we went next door to experiment with wind.
ant hill
We then had to head to the next favorite– the human ant hill, where Rachel was immediately overrun with littles again.
Issac found fish
In Mister Roger’s Neighborhood we found the fish tank.
The trolley
And the Neighborhood of Makebelieve.
castlenoisy stairs
We then headed up the very noisy stairs (they sigh, and ow, and make other noises as you walk up them.)
Young Children Only
In the nursery area (where we had to explore because there were BABIES!) we found this little teeter totter with the massage “Young Children Only” to which Rach replied, “That means we can use it forever,” and then insisted on a photo with it.

We headed upstairs to the water area, where the kids quickly went from this to this:
getting soaked and making friends
Where they made friends with the only other older kids willing to play and got thoroughly soaked.
getting soaked and making friends
The making friends was the best part– I loved watching them quickly find like minded kids to play with without being shy (unlike myself and their dad at their ages.)
drying off
Sure it meant plenty of this and this:
drying off
But it also meant they had someone to hang out with the rest of our visit which made my extroverted oldest very, very happy.
clock pendullum
For those who went to the Pittsburgh Children’s Museum as a child, the pendulum clock is still there and Issac quickly found it and had to explore it.

paper making

Meanwhile his sisters were having fun in the art room with their new friend, making paper

painting, and print making.
Issac wanted nothing to do with the art room (which he feels he can do readily enough at home while he really wanted to go to the Attic or “the sideways room” as he calls it.
And Rach went back to build in the Garage with her friend.
Esther, on the other hand, went into full performance mode which meant I got tons of incredible photos of her playing with the slow motion camera.
Many Esthers
Where she and her new friend spent a lot of time twisting, twirling
and doing the robot dance.
In the attic are all sorts of cool illusions, from optical to sound, to shadow, and gravity. Here the kids play with sound.


Mr. Roger's front porch
Finally they posed for some photos on Mr. Roger’s front porch swing.
Then on the actual front porch swing (which is HUGE).
Then because it was a beautiful day they posed for some more rather silly photos on the way to the car.



Click here to see the rest of the photos.

Where we are: November

So it has been a month and I have had nothing to say.  Too much going on, too much social stuff irl so not enough energy to share elsewhere.

Rachel, waiting and reading, at Esther's practice where she would later help paint the set.
Waiting for practice to start.
Ready to go in.

*Esther’s show went wonderfully.  She loved it.  She is not passionate about the stage but enjoys the social aspect of it.  When asked if she wants to do it again she says absolutely.  When I am asked whether I would do it again, I say I will consider it.  It was exhausting.  I did not enjoy dealing with the sort of grownup who wants to be involved in such things– the nastiness, backbiting, shoving, and shouting were all way too much for me (not me, I avoided it like the plague but it was a constant undertone in the whole thin despite it being a “Christian” organization though it didn’t phase Esther in the least.  So, we will see what the next show is and if it falls during a time when there is not much else going on.  Oh, and no photos from the show because we weren’t allowed to take ANY photos of the kids in costume on the campus at all– so we would buy the not so great cd of photos for $10.

*Esther turned 11.  She wanted a birthday party, which we had 2 days after Thanksgiving (her birthday was the day after the last day of Oliver! and I needed to recuperate after having to have her at the college EVERY, single, day for 3-6 hours for a week so we waited for the party.)  The party went well (family party overlapped with a friend party–we had family there and invited a few friends and their families), she is thrilled that she finally had a real party and everyone is happy.  And I forgot to take photos because the kids had my camera batteries in use in the Wiimotes.

*My muse left me completely and I have a few illustrations to finish for the project so I can call it done so I am very frustrated.  Instead my brain went completely left brained and I spent the last month suddenly finishing all the websites that have been waiting for me to work on them (other than my own).  So those are mostly done, which is good, and now I am at a place where I am almost ready to pick up my paint brush again.

Rachel as Susan from The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe.

*Rachel is adoring piano.  We are praying that we will continue to have the money to pay for her lessons (we pay about half what the other classes in the area cost but are dwindling down to the dregs financially and unless we get the check owed us soon are going to be worrying about where the next meal comes from let alone piano lesson.)

She and Issac also spent about a week making stop animation Lego videos– or at least taking photos for them (I have to find a better movie maker that will let me throw all those photos in for them–haven’t found a simple one for Ubuntu that works with stills.  They took over 300 photos.  They made a house building movie, a roller coaster ride, a sword fight, and a few others.

Building a House
Building a House

Preparing to record.

The Sword Fight

*Issac wrote a post on his blog, finally (it only took him a year).  Actually he was nervous of actually typing it himself but he answered the questions and told me what to write. He has also been getting really into Esther’s new Scribblenauts game (as have all three in fact) which is awesome because in Scribblenauts you have to write in anything you want or need to solve the puzzle and you have to spell it correctly (the other day Rachel wrote Duke instead of duck, and got a duke, and wrote plan and plane instead of plain and got both of those– which of course did not help her solve that particular problem.)  He is going around with a huge list of words on a sheet of paper so he can spell them corerctly and reading, reading, reading.

He also has thoroughly enjoyed the huge piles of leaves this year.

Happy leaf pile
Adding leaves
Very tall leaf pile

*We finally managed to figure out all the stuff the mortgage company wanted  (lots of no you don’t need that, oh wait yes you do, oh you forgot to send us that thing that you sent us twice sort of business since April) and are now plugged into the next step in project maybe they won’t foreclose on our home after all.  We keep praying about this and trying to decide how best to manage it.  If God wants us out of this house then the bank will probably have to take it because it needs to much work done for us to sell it at what we would have to in an area where houses aren’t really selling.  If He wants us to keep it then He needs to help us make more money (down to just the Escapist’s random checks and my random bits of income which only pay for extras) or provide some other way.  Either way we are trusting him but it is a relief that something is happening, finally and knowing that if we DO have to move it won’t be until June-ish. That said the roof is leaking again. Praising the Lord that it does or we never would have been able to afford the house in the first place.

Some pumpkins.

*We are thoroughly enjoying having more time with Shamus now that he is down to working a normal work week (he worked 60-80 hours before).  We actually got to watch a movie together last night (How to Train Your Dragon–hilarious).  Esther has used her birthday money to get a WoW account to play with him (as he works on his new Let’s Play series– his best work yet.  He is working on a game, and a book, and another video series and much calmer and happier, or would be if the whole where will the money come from thing would get settled.  I think that if the Escapist paid regularly– either on the quarter instead of some unknown time after or maybe even monthly, he would be much calmer and able to just enjoy writing for a living.

Esther Cat picking a pumpikin

*A dear friend gave us a copy of Restoration: Returning the Torah of God to the Disciples of Jesus which has changed our view of The Bible in amazing ways.  It has really been eye opening.  I read it myself, sharing some choice passages with Shamus and now we are reading through as a family (having finished our yearly through the Bible reading as a family early.)  It is so exciting to discuss and share and see the Bible from this new point of view.  I do not yet feel like I am up for discussion about it but we are now celebrating Sabbath and the Biblical holy days and it is so much more “real” and true than all the made up celebration days that have felt empty.  Not only that but God is really blessing us through it– the kids even get excited when it is near Sabbath each week.  In fact just a few weeks ago Esther realized it was Friday and shouted with joy, “Mom, tomorrow is Sabbath! That is my FAVORITE holiday!  And we get to celebrate it EVERY week!”  Not only has it changed our viewpoint but it has made us eager to start the new year and dig into the Old Testament scriptures and find the things we have been missing.  It also made reading the New Testament (we read straight through this year) make so much more sense!

My crew (Issac is Batman, again) with Kayla (Snow Princess).

*Shamus and I got each other Walk It Out for Christmas thanks to Janel’s review of it.  We love Wii Fit and the kids and Shamus love Dance Dance Revolution but we needed something that would be  low impact for me and let us walk with lots of goals and variety (walking outside here doesn’t happen much except in the summer since we live in Western PA where the weather and roads are not designed for walking– unless you like being forced into the mud/snow by cars whizzing by at speeds well in excess of the speed limit on blind curves while trying to trudge up a hill.) So, Walk it out is good and fun and as Janel pointed out here you have to use will power to STOP working out.

Randomly random post title here

Almsot 9

And now he is 9.  He has had an awesome birthday, except that in his excitement he woke 4 hrs earlier than usual and thus is a major crank today.  Otherwise he has had a great birthday, actually getting presents that were exactly what he wanted, and was saving for.  Which is nice.

And today after a near panic (in my head) about how certain monetary needs would be met in the future, we received an extra last check from my husband’s old company, which is nice and which will fill the final gap in the cost of the half of a steer we were saving for.  This will save a great deal of money in the future, unless our deep freeze dies– every time I walk into the store that I have to go to to buy the hormone/antibiotic free beef that is the only sort we can eat I walk out having spent at least $50, only a portion of which was on the beef.  The half a steer is also MUCH cheaper for the meat itself, which is also good.  The fact that we don’t eat pork, are allergic to poultry (anaphylaxis to the cheapest meat is just lovely, thank you), and I am sad to say several of my children have inherited my complete hatred of most fish means that grass fed, organic beef is about our only meat source.  Sigh.   Good thing we all like beef.

Also in the household news, lessons have been learned about triggers of outbursts and depression for certain children, which led to lessons in redemption and forgiveness, and in doing ones homework (for for outside lessons) so one does not feel stressed and then depressed because one has not done ones homework.  (This is a lesson that unschooled children do not learn as quickly as public schooled ones–though I have known many such children who never did learn said lesson.)

Also, earlier this week I punctured my ear drum, again.  Long story short: used course see salt  and too much of it in my neti pot, which led to huge pieces of salt up my nose, which led to burning, which led to sudden and extreme nose blowing (STOP the BURNING), which led to right ear drum popping and a whole day lying down on a hot pack.  Anyway, so now I am going around with a silicone ear plug to block the ear so it doesn’t hurt so much and answering way too many questions about the neon orange thing in my ear.  So, that has been fun.

On the Road Again: part 3

Finally, the rest of the post so I can move on to all the stuff that has been happening since August.

After spending several hours at the Maryland Science Center (and $15 poorer due to the cost of parking), we were off again, this time to spend the night a bloggy friend’s house for the night before heading to another bloggy friend’s house on the way home the next day. I have known Deb for several years now (initially through the web and later through a previous stop on the way home from our semiannual trip to visit another friend.) Her kids are in a similar age range to my own and they all thoroughly enjoy each other.  Also Deb is full of awesome ideas and I love to absorb as much as I can while visiting. 🙂

There was a lot of mommy talk (poor Deb barely got any quiet I am afraid), dress-up and costumes (mostly the girls though they have plenty of awesome boy costumes and the boys got in on it),

quite a few practical jokes, light-saber and Nerf gun battles galore with some Lego’s thrown in the mix, and of course lots of swimming.

We had a lovely time and the kids had a hard time leaving.

Visiting friends

Though I suspect poor Deb, who keeps a gorgeous, amazingly decorated, (and CLEAN) house despite having 4 kids and has an awful lot on her plate, was ready for a break.  And isn’t this a beautiful picture  of her and her youngest (okay, not a great picture but I love the mommy love going on in it.)  So thank you again, Deb, for opening your home to us and your wonderful hospitality.  You were such a blessing to us (and my house loves you– you are such an inspiration and it is much better organized and all those little things that I put off have happened since our last visit.  I swear, one of these days I am going to kidnap you so you can help me make my house look nice.)

Visiting friends

We then hopped in the car (it melting out and the one downside of our lovely, wonderful, blessing of a Toyota Sienna is that the air conditioning is meh if anything so 100 degrees was a bit much.)  We headed north, back to PA, were we spent several wonderful hours visiting this wonderful family (I have known Beth online for as long as I have known Deb but as they only just moved to PA from Tennessee and I have never been to Tennessee  this was our first time meeting. )

We spent so much time busy and talking and talking and talking, well, we forgot to take pictures.  Where Deb is an inspiration (I always come home full of awesome ideas and my house spends the next month getting much more organized :)), Beth is a kindred spirit.  So mostly we talked books, books, art, books, books, kids, books, books, Christianity, books, cooking, books, unschooling, books, and possibly, books.  Her oldest gave his Lego collection over to Issac for the day (who relished some much needed alone time playing), the girls hit it off like that (and are bugging and bugging for another visit), and all the kids headed down to the creek for a long wade and some crayfish catching.  I came home with several amazing books to read (Nourishing Traditions I bought myself having seen it at Beth’s and discussed it with her), Restoration: Returning the Torah of God to the Disciples of Jesus she gave me (it has changed our lives and our relationship with God– heartily recommend it), plus a creation dinosaur book (Dinosaurs by Design) that we didn’t have for Essie to read due to her sudden fascination with all things dinosaur (we had this one and this one.  Oh, and she sent me home with some raw milk, which we tried, love, (can DRINK!!!), and which immediately spawned a search for a raw milk producer in the area (52 minutes away is the closest but what a blessing!)  I can’t wait to go back and pick her brain about a multitude of things (and as I mentioned my oldest especially reminds me daily that we need to go back for a visit..  Of course now that both families have weekly activities it has been tricky to find the time but God’s timing is perfect and I am looking forward to the next visit (and can’t wait till they can get here to visit us!)

On the road again: part 2

So it is October and I am only just now, finally, finishing this series, except that this isn’t the finish because I am just doing part of a post because I have to leave in a few minutes to take Esther to her 2 and half hour Oliver! practice (during which I will sit and paint– the project is progressing and Sunday afternoon practices have been a huge help since I get to sit there for 2 and half hours without kids hanging over me– “Whatcha doin’ Mom?  I’m hungry!  Can I …..”)

So, the second stage of our trip to Alexandria we  used our wonderful gift of the museum membership to go to the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore (which just happened to be on the way to another friend’s house.) On the way there, which entailed driving the bypass for DC, Rachel recorded my running commentary regarding the crazy drivers off DC. Mostly she just took pictures which are not nearly as funny as she thought they should be. And at this point all I remember was how silly it all was, and how silly the roads are down there with their constant attempts to remove you from the road you are trying to stay on and the GPS constantly jabbering on about staying left, stay right, take the right lane to turn left.
And this is me. No, I am not angry, just sweltering hot (100 degrees), and concentrating on the craziness around me.
Maryland Science Center
We mad eit with no trouble, except that the GPS thought the Sceince Center was a mile down the road on a bike path, which was nice. Oh, and there is no actual parking so you have to do road side (just so you know– Pittsburgh has cheap parking for the Ar tMuseum and Sceince Center– which I never appreciated until this where I had to pay $15 for 6 hour parking and had to run outside every 2 hours to pay (remember that I had to park AWAY from the Science Center entrance and it was 100 degrees outside? Yeah. Oh, and I was alone with 3 kids? Which meant at the very least dragging the youngest outside with me each time and being very nervous about leaving the older two with very strict instructions to STAY TOGETHER and call if they need me.)
Maryland Science Center
At least it was pretty.
Maryland Science Center
As usual we headed to the top first (beat the crowds going the other direction. In this case the upstairs was kind of dull though the Chesapeake Bay area and blue crab bit was cool if short.)
Maryland Science Center
The next floor was much, much cooler. We actually got to go into the chemistry lab and experiment (ours showed us how enzymes worked, which is awesome because we have to take food enzymes daily for most foods.)
Maryland Science Center
Really awesome.
Maryland Science Center
Then there was the physics section– which the kids adored. This particular contraption was after my marble loving boy’s heart.
Maryland Science CEnter
All three loved this experiment with pullys.
Maryland Science CEnter
Maryland Science CEnter
Maryland Science CEnter
Also awesome was this section– here the kids had to build an arch from these foam blocks as quickly as possible.
Maryland Science CEnter
Maryland Science CEnter
Building flying machines to put in the wind tunnel= awesome.
Maryland Science CEnter
Black lights right outside the bathroom.
Maryland Science CEnter
Obligatory “dress up as astronauts” photo for my brother, who has worked at NASA from the last 9 years and has wanted to be an astronaut since he was 4.
And about here my camera batteries died or something because I don’t have photos of the other areas– like the dinosaur dig– which Essie adored or the astronomy section. And none of the human body/cell area– which freaked out my two preteen girls to no end. (We have hit that” too much information about the human body being learned out of necessity and therefore want nothing to do with blood cells and all that” stage.)

The kids enjoyed this science center but there has been quite a bit of debate about which is their favorite so far– I think Carnegie Science Center still wins– the Maryland Science Center had some really impressive exhibits but felt too wide open and empty compared to all the awesome stuff at the Carnegie. Also, I think the exhibits at the Carnegie have more replay value than those at Maryland.

A few minutes after leaving the Science Center we were well on our way to another friend’s house but you will probably hear more about that sometime in November if current trends continue. And now I have to leave as it is work time for me and practice time for Essie.

On the road again: Part 1

This summer, due to all sorts of graduations and other activities that were planned for us, we didn’t get to go on our usual trip until the beginning of August.  Now let me just say that when you live in Western PA you forget just how HOT other parts of PA and below get.  And since we were planning on stopping by some other friends’ places and are back on the Candida diet (which by the way is making a huge difference in all of us–not a single RA flare-up for me this whole trip despite the temps and humidity and no one got sick!  YAH us!) we brought our own food.  Note to self: Make sure you keep lots of ice in that thing– 70-80 degrees temps is very different from 90-100.  And since the one friend, whom we often visit, is very near multiple Whole Foods and Trader Joes we stocked up as well–so most of our money spent was on FOOD.

Some highlights of our trip, educational and otherwise:Read More

I’m that Mom

Joining in on an awesome, impromptu blog carnival over here.

(I am deliberately not reading everyone else’s until I have finished writing mine, except for the 2 I saw that made me realize that this is a cool thing that I actually want to join in on because I suspect a lot of us overlap and I want to share who I am without worrying about that it may be a “YEAH, ME TOO.”)

I am that mom who, when the kids ask if we can please go visit our friends 5 hours away tomorrow, says yes, starts packing, and goes.
Rachel and Kayla

I am that mom who upon finding out the the oldest’s best friend (who lives 2 days away) might be able to come stay for a week says YES.

I am that mom who on 4th of July goes fireworks chasing with the kids, driving all over tarnation looking at everyone’s awesome displays,  instead of taking them to sit in a huge crowd and watching one display.


I am that mom who would rather take the kids to the pond to swim or sit and watch hours upon hours of anime, Dr. Who, favorite movies, or As Time Goes By with the crazy, wonderful kids than worry about what the neighbors think of her children’s nearly dead flower/veggie garden and too tall grass.
I am that mom who when the kids decide to build a tent/tree house/whatever in the back yard says nothing or helps them find the needed materials, knowing that again the neighbors will wonder about the people next door ruining the view from their perfect yards.

I am that mom who runs outside with the kids in the pouring rain to look for rainbows.

I am that mom who, when the kids find their long lost roller blades and ask if they can go somewhere to roller blade, suggests they roller blade in the house on our fake hard wood floors and allow them to continue to wear them for everything for the next week.

I am that mom who lets her kids turn her entire kitchen into a restaurant for days at a time and play with their food.
Larry the Cucumber

I am that mom who, when her son asks to take all the blankets from all over the house and use them to jump on, says yes.

I am that mom who takes a camera wherever her kids go and takes pictures of all the awesome things they do.

Super straw

I am that mom who, when her kids want to mow the grass says yes and then says nothing about the stripes of extra tall grass left behind and the odd, rather like a maze, style of cutting grass her oldest prefers.

I am that mom who, when a kid says “come see this cool thing” stops what she is doing to go see (and it always IS really cool!)


I am that mom who realizes that her middle child loves the stage and when she asks signs her up and takes her to a performing arts camp the very next week.

I am that mom who still loses her cool, who still gets frustrated when the kids have totally trashed the place (not a problem) and then don’t clean it up (a problem), who has bad days and does not cope so well when the kids are fighting, again.
Issac room

I am that mom who still has a long way to go but loves where her kids are exactly where they are regardless of the stage they are in, loves being with them, and thinks they are totally awesome and fun.
Alameda Park 2010
Yes, this is an extended version, I got started and kept going (which anyone who knows me in person knows this is VERY typical.)

A Bend in the Road

We are entering a new stage in our life.  Up until now we have very deliberately avoided multiple external engagements.  Since we are home all the time we try to live loosely, avoiding things that insist on our time.  However, we have now, to borrow from Anne, come to a bend in the road that we can’t quite see around but since God is involved and giving us peace we know that this is a good bend and at the very least will be interesting.
Carnegie Science Center
Recently we have made several observations.  One major one involves Esther who, it has suddenly occurred to us, loves the stage.  And when I say loves the stage I mean she adores all of the performing arts and especially being in front of a crowd.  The thing about that is that she didn’t know there was anything special about the fact that when at VBS and everyone is embarrassed at having to do very silly movements and sing an even sillier song in front everyone she happily puts her whole heart it into it, belting out the words and doing the actions perfectly.  And there are many other similar moments that we finally put together before we asked her if studying the performing arts or trying out for a play would be something she would be interested in.  She was surprised that there was even something like that out there available to her.  But she also hates being busy and likes to spend lots of time reading and with her siblings so we decided to have her attend a one week, morning only camp where they will be writing a story and lyrics for a musical, and learning basic dancing, acting, and singing to see whether she would really like to continue and if she has the talent to do it.  This will mean waking early each morning for our sleep in till noon child and me spending my mornings taking her to and from the lessons.
Carnegie Science Center
Another revelation and potential change is that our 12 year old has been watching what God is doing in her life, exploring the desires He has given her, and decided to try out some and see what she finds out.  First off is piano.  She passionately wants to learn piano and has taught herself some of the basics, enough that she feels she needs someone who knows better than I to encourage her forward.  And so she has asked the daughter of a friend of mine who plays beautifully to help her learn.  And we have decided that if she proves that she will follow through  and if God provides the money then she can take lessons in the fall when our friend goes back to college.
Next is that she wants a job (babysitting), or two (delivering newspapers).  Now it is pretty tricky for a 12 year old girl to find a job but she has two leads as of this morning.  A friend of mine (another daughter of the same friend) delivers newspapers–lots of them, and knows the manager so said she would ask about local to us routes.  She also has two boys Esther and Issac’s age and offered right off to have Rachel stay with them while she is out delivering papers.  Of course this means more driving on my part (I like driving but not constantly and I have taken on more work projects and would prefer to be home working by my hubby.)
A friend, who has kids who have always gone and gone and gone gave me some pointers, especially since both activities are in the same general location which means I can take some of her suggestions for things to do while I wait, and I always have a book and not enough time to read it, so that is something else.  But it is interesting to watch them grow and change and finally solidify some of their desires, or at least find ways to test them to see if that is really what they want.

Rhythm to our days

Our family does not live by a schedule in any way shape or form.  None of us like them– our whole family gets horribly stressed with a schedule.  I know there are people out there who NEED a list or schedule, who thrive if they know what is going to happen today, tomorrow, next week. We are not those people. Knowing I have to do something at a specific time next week stresses me out for the whole time preceding that activity and I find it impossible to focus on the other things I need to get done in that time.

However, we do seek patterns, rhythms that help us discern what comes next depending on the season we are in.  The times change as does the order but there is a general idea in everyone’s head as to what is likely to happen on any given day.

A lot of our rhythm focuses on my husband and where he is in his odd 26 hour day wake/sleep cycle.  When he is sleeping from 4am to 12pm our rhythm as a family is different than when he is sleeping from 4pm to 12am.  It also focuses on how many hours he is working.  When he is working 40 hr weeks (almost never) our family rhythm is different than when he is working 60 or 80 hr weeks (as he has been for the last 12 months.)
There are also certain elements that are always included in our family rhythm while others are seasonal.  Always included of breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack.  Always included is a daily reading of the Bible as a family.  Those are givens though sometimes breakfast is the big meal while in other seasons snack is and in some seasons we read just 1 chapter of the Bible quickly with little discussion and others we read many and discuss every few seconds of reading.  Of course one other given is sleep.  We all need a lot of sleep (with the RA I need about 10 hrs) so sleep is always a given.  On a weekly basis our rhythm nearly always includes a trip to the library, a trip to my grandmother’s (1/2 hr drive away and takes most of the afternoon evening), a trip to the thrift shop (or three), an hour of everyone cleaning up the house so that we can all move without stumbling on things left behind, and a trip to the grocery store.

Right now we are in a season and look to be shifting to a new one because of changes in weather and hubby’s sleep and changes in which days he has “off” (from his programming job so he can work on his writing which is his other job–he only takes 1 day off completely a week– Saturday which he jealously guards).  It is also changing because I am working about 20+ hours a week on various projects.
For the past week our rhythm has included me making all meals (because of re-instituting the Candida diet), driving to the pond to swim twice a day (because the afternoons are way too hot and one hour swimming in the morning and one in the evening have been working well for the kids), a quiet time in the afternoon so I can work and run errands because the kids are worn out after all that swimming, and  an evening reading of the Bible before we head back to the pond.

Right now we are in a state of flux.  Hubby’s sleep has shifted again, I have work to get done, the weather has cooled a bit so that an afternoon swim is probably the best choice, we would like to fit a trip to one of the Pittsburgh museums in on a weekly or at least biweekly basis, Rachel is going to be working on piano with a friends daughter, and Essie wants to go to a performing arts camp next week (I am praying they have an opening–have to call today and find out), and the kids are settling into the Candida diet and getting comfortable so I don’t have to fix their every meal.  It will be interesting to find the next pattern, to see the next rhythm.
Already the kids are staying up later and sleeping in longer so they have more time with Daddy while he is awake but I happen to know there is a game on his computer that ONLY works on his computer that we are all aching to play and that some of the time he is asleep is going to be spent playing it.  Already they are asking less to go to the pond for a swim and instead are spending lots and lots of time drawing or playing with Legos (Issac is trying to design a robot that utilizes water in its design– inspired by Falling Waters and a water works plant that has a huge built in waterfall on the side on the way to the Science Center.)  The girls are spending a lot of time playing with friends on Build-a-bear and Skype and reading.

And so we will see where it leads and what God has planned for us next.  Regardless, it won’t be boring which is great because I hate too much repetition and adore change and the good Lord knew that when He gave me this wonderful, ever changing family.