Sunday, March 25, 2012

Clara's ER Visit

We had some excitement around here on Friday afternoon. While I was upstairs folding laundry, Meredith and Clara started screaming in the living room. I met Meredith halfway down the stairs and she said Clara hit her head on the coffee table. (Later I found out she had been doing gymnastics on the couch which, of course, is against the rules.)

Folks, there was a lot of blood. She must have hit an artery. Then, Sophia who was still upstairs started screaming too because she was confused and scared. I looked at the gash in her head, which was right between her eyebrows and it was deep. We got something to stop the blood, I picked up Clara and put her in the car. Meredith gathered everyone's shoes. And we were off for a very, very long 15-minute car ride to the ER.

I was trying to pray with the kids but I was having to shout my prayer in order to be heard. I think this is the first time I have literally screamed out a prayer!

On the way to the hospital, in between screams, Clara asked, "Am I going to DIE?!" When I told her, "You will be okay," she asked, "Will other kids laugh at me?"

Clara received excellent care. Kevin arrived about 10 minutes after we did. Kevin's mom and aunt arrived around that same time too. (Ironically, they were at another hospital down the street while Kevin's grandma was having a pacemaker put in! It was a VERY exciting day! Although, not the kind of excitement we prefer, for sure.)

We made sure to ask for a plastic surgeon to stitch her up. It is her face, after all. The gash was about the size of a nickel and it exposed her bone. It was bad. But, like I said, she got really good care.

While coming out of anesthesia, she waxed hysterical. We laughed over all the funny things she said. Her dad helped her in a wheelchair and she was enthralled with it all. While helping her back into bed, she was very loopy and kept saying, "Dad. I can haaaaannnndle it. I can haaaaaannnnndle it." Silly girl.

We are very grateful that God protected us. I know this visit to the ER, though traumatic for us at the moment, is nothing compared to other accidents. It could have been a lot worse. We are thankful.


Clara had some family and friends send her goodies to help sweeten the deal. She felt very loved. She was outside running around the following day!


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Friday, March 23, 2012

New Season (in more ways than one ...)

On March 20, I woke up to discover that Meredith had risen early and decorated the house for spring. She, unbeknownst to me, had known that March 20 was the first "official" day of spring. She also knew where some spring-ish decorations were in the basement. Wha-lah! Spring has arrived. I love her enthusiasm.

Yesterday was our last homeschool class of the year. We will still continue plugging away for a few months, but now our Thursday mornings will be free to focus on other pursuits. I am always sad to see classes end because I enjoy the fellowship and the educational enrichment. But it will be nice to have more free time!

Yesterday was particularly somber because it is the last day our current group will meet. Leadership is changing and several families are moving on. The new group will, no doubt, be awesome. But I have loved the flavor of the group we have now.

One thing I have learned about mothering: Nothing stays the same for long. The best thing I can learn to do is be adaptable.

There was also celebration in the air. These kids have worked hard all year. They have studied various disciplines and have memorized massive amounts of material. What seemed impossible at the beginning of the year was accomplished, thanks to their young, fresh minds. Kids' ability to memorize is amazing!

In order to make our last day of classes more special, we decided to make patriotic sugar cookies. These were in the shape of the United States and they were iced with red, white, and blue icing. This year we have studied United States history and geography. The kids have memorized all 50 states and capitols and various geographical features, as well as historical statements, and they have memorized the names of all 44 of our presidents. So, we thought these were appropriate!

Notice the blue icing on Meredith's teeth. Ha! We caught you Mer!

And I simply had to include this picture of Clara. She and Meredith discovered this wig in a forgotten box in our basement. She wore it all day, proclaiming that she is Ariel. And it matches her new bathing suit to boot! (Can you tell she has a Little Mermaid obsession right now?)

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Friday, March 16, 2012

Not Irish ... but Loving the Green!

The Annual "Greening of the Downtown Canal" Event.
Of course, we would never miss it!  It's way too FUN.
And, a cure for the March blahs.

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Maple Syrup Days

Our homeschool group took a field trip to McCloud Nature Park to learn about maple syrup production.

At the start, the kids were read the 20 something ingredients contained in artificial maple syrup.

"Here, you read this. There's only one ingredient here: 'maple syrup.'"

The kids were shown how to identify a maple tree and taught about the process of inserting a spial.

Clara tried her hand at drilling.

The kids were also taught about how the Native Americans processed tree sap into coarse sugar.

They tried a sample of sugar made from maple sap.

They guide who explained the sugar shack processing was awesome.

Clara was thrilled to learn she could sample some raw sap and also some diluted syrup to compare it.

Sophia also gets to sample it. They were also thrilled that they could eat some maple candy!

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Thursday, March 08, 2012

Spring Fever Rages

We have had a major case of spring fever around here. On Monday and Tuesday our homeschool was an epic fail. (As in, it was dinner time and Meredith was STILL doing her math.) I was stressed out. I hadn't planned to take a spring break but Kevin told me I needed to take the day off on Wednesday. God arranged for it to be 68 degrees and sunny that day. I think it was a special gift just for me!

The kids ran around at the park for several hours. They played on the play equipment and then we hiked on some nature trails that sloped down toward a river. It was a really good, refreshing day in the sun.

Just what the doctor ordered to help cure Spring Fever.


We miss our cousins, who live so far away! The kids enjoyed having cousins in town when Kevin's two sisters came recently on separate visits.

Clara holds baby Max:

Meredith plays with Samantha:

The guys show off their Origami-making skills to entertain the children:

Sophia is a Grandpa-Girl:

Bennett, Clara, Sophia, Meredith, and baby Grant:

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Orchestra Petting Zoo

Today involved extra hands-on activities at our weekly homeschool classes: the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra Petting Zoo was loaned to us for the day.  The kids have been studying orchestra and they were so excited to be able to handle all the instruments and try to play them. 


After class, we invited a friend of Meredith's to come over to play.  Here they are having tea with their dolls (yes, a lot of crumbs were involved).  As I type, they are having a church service with their dolls.  I love it.
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Friday, March 02, 2012

Tornado Warning

The sky grew grey and the winds picked up and then the storm sirens started wailing. Ten minutes previously I had put Sophia down for her nap. I got on and saw that there was a tornado warning in effect for the next 30 minutes.

Even though I have lived in the Midwest for nearly six years, I called Kevin to see if I “really had to wake up a sleeping baby” and therefore mess up all my afternoon plans. (If you’re a mom, you know that nap time is the only time during the day that you are likely to accomplish anything.)

He asked if it was a “tornado warning” or a “tornado watch.” It’s a “tornado warning,” I said. He then told me that I either had to get Sophia up and take her to the basement or send the other two kids down to the basement and stay and watch out the window to make sure there weren’t any funnel clouds coming, in which case I would need to grab the baby and run.

Since I’m from California and don’t entirely trust myself to properly judge what the array of funnel clouds might look like—even though I have seen them in movies, of course—I woke up the baby.

As the kids and I sat in the basement to wait out the storm, we recalled that Clara’s recent AWANA verse was “Even the winds and the waves obey Him” (Matt. 8:27). Several times this semester, the verses the kids have been memorizing have really come in handy. I love how God works things out like that. Even though Clara asked questions like, “Does this mean our company isn’t coming tonight?” and “If we go upstairs, will we die, mom?” she didn’t seem scared. She remembered her verse and she was comforted.

God is in control and cares for us. We really are blessed. Even when our afternoons get "messed up."

New Plan of Attack

I can’t believe it took me until mid-February to figure out a way to make my homeschool day more efficient and keep myself more sane. I am a slow learner!

We usually always start our day with bible, memory recitation, and then we read God’s World News and sometimes a little poetry. After that, if Meredith hasn’t already started it (she is a very early riser), we do math. Then we try to conquer language arts. Then we move on from there if we can!

Up until last month I had been starting her off in math and letting her finish her math worksheets on her own, while I cleaned up the kitchen and took care of the other kids and tried to work with Clara. Then, I would start her off on reading comprehension and copy work worksheets, and then let her finish that while I did other things. Then, we would spend about 15-20 minutes doing English Grammar, and she completed those worksheets on her own after that.

So, our pattern has been: I work with her, she works on her own, I work with her, she works on her own, etc. We would completely finish a subject before we started another one.

To be honest, there have been days where I am ready to go crazy. They are the days when she is distracted easily (two hours to do three math problems) and we are interrupted constantly (yes, I have a toddler), and it might be 2:00 and we still are not even done with BASIC school. Forget about all the other stuff I had hoped to do with them.

It is not realistic to expect that there will be no distractions or no interruptions when you homeschool. It’s a package deal. I realized I had to be smarter and figure something else out that would work better for us.

Now, I do it differently.

After bible, I sit down with Meredith and I do all the teaching I need to do with her for the whole day at one time. I introduce her math concept and make sure she understands it. Then I take her math worksheets and put them in a “to do” pile. Then I introduce the new English Grammar. Then I take those worksheets and put them in the pile. If I get interrupted by the younger two kids during this time, I grab something out of Meredith’s “to do” pile and have her work on it while I take care of her sisters. So, Meredith always has something to do and there is not any wasted time. Then, when I am done with the interruption, I have her stop where she is at, put her unfinished work back in the pile, and I keep teaching her where I left off. Usually I can be done with ALL of my teaching responsibilities by 10:30 or 11:00 except for the reading aloud that I do with the kids. After that point in time, Meredith can do everything on her own (although I still monitor her closely) and I am free to either work with Clara or do other things.

I cannot even tell you how freeing this new approach has been for me.

I am much less frazzled. More of my time has been freed up. I have more time to stop and read aloud to the kids, which is what we all love! And, if it takes Meredith until 4:00 to finish her school, it won't be the end of the world. She will still be done with school before the neighbor kids are done with homework.

Does anyone else have any tips or ideas? I know there are a lot of ways to homeschool and there is no one Right Way. I love hearing what other people are doing.