Sunday, July 30, 2006

Another one bites the dust

Hmm, maybe that wasn't the best title, because this "other one" won't be biting much of anything anymore.
This one fell out Saturday at my sister's apartment while I was on the phone with my father-in-law trying to arrange dinner plans for nine people. When Samuel tried to get my attention to tell me, I indicated that he needed to wait until I was off the phone (something we've been working on lately) and he had a catastrophic meltdown. When I got off the phone, I discovered that not only had he lost his second tooth, he had, well, lost it. Hence the meltdown. Thankfully, once he showed me where he had been standing when it fell out, I found it and all is well. And, as a bonus, he now makes a little whistling noise when he talks sometimes, a la Gopher in Winnie the Pooh.

Also, you can see in this picture the slight sunburn on Samuel's cheeks and nose, since we've been spending so much time at the pool the past few days. Hence the lack of blogging. Gotta take advantage of the rest of summer! How on earth did it get to be August already???

Friday, July 28, 2006

" embarassment of riches..."

Kim over at Starry Sky Ranch posted on the now infamous my-kids-are-boring article. Please, go read it here. Beautiful, Kim. Absolutely beautiful.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Boring kids? Or distant parents?

So I just read this post from The Daily Eudemon. Go ahead, go read it. I'll wait.

Okay, so since I, being rather computer challenged, cannot figure out how or even if I can comment on his blog, I'll respond on my own. I wanted to expound on something that Eric Scheske touches on in his last paragraph, that even activities with your child which are initially boring can become enjoyable when you see how they benefit the child.

This is something I've often reflected on, and is a constant struggle to me. I often am in the middle of an activity that is much more appealing than playing dinosaurs or knights or watching Samuel play sticks. (Yes, he says that. "Watch me play sticks, mama!") I even consider laundry and dishes more appealing than these activities. At least then, I feel productive. When Samuel wants me to participate in these activities with him, one of three things happens.

1 - I say "in a minute", "not now", or flat-out "no". This results in him feeling less secure, being more clingy and whiny, and distracting me from my work more, which makes me more irritable and less inclined to play with him, and the downward spiral begins, usually ending in him misbehaving, me yelling, and then realizing that the root of it all is me being inaccessible to him and feeling very guilty.

2 - I say yes, but don't really participate. I am still reading email while he's telling me a story, folding laundry when I'm supposed to be sword-fighting, and washing dishes when I'm supposed to be making wings for his toys out of pipe cleaners. This half-hearted version results in pretty much the same as above - frustration on both sides. I can be quite the multitasker, but in times like these, it just doesn't cut it.

3 - I say yes, and really mean it! While I am often initially reluctant, if I truly give myself over to playing with Samuel and entering his world, I am always so glad I did. And not just because it was a worthy sacrifice for Samuel's benefit, but because I actually have fun! I have found that what I read from various attachment parenting authors during pregnancy is actually true: the more time you spend with your child, the more time you want to spend with your child.

I think of this whenever I hear someone say that they work outside the home or do not homeschool because they "just can't be with their kids all day long". Well, if I didn't attachment parent, I probably couldn't either! But, because I do, it is a joy. I sometimes imagine what it would have been like to be a mainstream parent. Instead of relaxing in a recliner nursing my sweet baby, I would have spent half the day washing, sterilizing, and preparing bottles while my baby cried for me to hold him. Instead of cuddling with my baby through the night and never hearing him cry because I'd nurse him long before he was that aroused, I would have awakened to a baby screaming down the hall, and would have had to stumble out of bed, flounder around the kitchen for a bottle, and then feed the baby before being able to go back to sleep. I think day care would have looked pretty tempting had that been the case. But instead, I could not get enough of my child. And I still can't.

I simply cannot imagine how much harder it must be to parent if you don't attachment parent. I am not surprised that most mainstream families are small - who could do that for more than a few kids? I have heard people joke that they attachment parent because they are lazy. Well, that's not my primary motivation, but it is a huge side benefit! It's just easier to parent this way. And while there are many, many loving mainstream families, I also think it is easier to love your child if you attachment parent.

So, if you find your child boring, the remedy isn't to send them off with the nanny, Helen Kirwan-Taylor. Instead, spend more time with your child. Get to KNOW him. Once you do, you'll find that children are addictive. Get hooked.

Update: You can read the entire original article here. Genevieve Kineke has a great post on this article over at feminine-genius. And, while not directly related to the article, Danielle Bean has a lovely post on being present to our children here.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

New blog in town

Amy has started a new blog dedicated to the works of Charlotte Mason. I don't know a whole lot about the CM approach, but what I do know, I like a lot. I've been wanting to learn more, and now I have a great way to do it! Thanks, Amy!

another milestone

Samuel came to me about 2 weeks ago to tell me his tooth was loose, and I said, "Yeah, I know," thinking he was just noticing that they still had a little wiggle to them after a previous injury. Well, he opened his mouth and flipped his tooth perpendicular to where it should be, and I, being the calm, laid-back mom that I am, screamed. Which made him think something was horribly wrong and burst into tears. I know, way to go. I'll put that on my resume for the mom-of-the-year award. But all is well now, and look at that big boy gap!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

schooling in six lessons

I just read a fabulous article by John Taylor Gatto, unschooling guru. Read it here. This really encapsulates what we are trying to avoid by unschooling. I really need to read more of Gatto's writings. Off to add to my Amazon wishlist!

30th Carnival of Homeschooling up here, at The Lilting House. Way to rock, Lissa! :)

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Oh, look, the laundry is done and the dishes are clean!

And other things you'll never hear me say...

2. Go ahead and eat that piece of food you dropped. My floor is so clean, it's okay.

3. Oh yes, I ordered the grilled reuben.

4. Tell me about that fascinating computer game you're playing.

5. Look, I caught a grasshopper!

6. Ooh, Samuel would love this battery-powered, light-up, talking toy!

7. Boy, I slept in today! I must've stayed in bed until 7!

8. We have too many books.

9. Pie? Oh, no thanks, I really shouldn't.

10. Samuel, I got you a new video to watch. It's about a big purple dinosaur named "Barney".

Do you have a list? Link to it in the comments!

berries everywhere

On Friday morning, we went berry picking at Pontious Farm in White Heath. If you are in the area, you've got to go here! It was so much fun! First we picked 1.5# of raspberries. Well, that's how many we took home, I have a feeling another half pound or so ended up in Samuel's belly. They should really weigh kids when they enter and leave to get a more accurate count. After raspberries, we moved on to blueberries. There was a large variety that was just ripening and was virtually untouched by the Japanese beetles, and we picked over 12# in no time, which will hopefully be enough to supply us through the year when added to what was already in my freezer. It was just such a great day for berry picking. The weather was cool, and Samuel and my berry-picking buddy's son had a blast running through the rows, picking and eating berries, and playing in the sandbox. We definitely plan to go back soon! Hopefully next time Samuel won't get quite so filthy though. The picture below was taken after he fell asleep in the car on the way home and was carried up to bed. This picture really does not do justice to just how dirty his feet and lower legs were. You'll just have to trust me on that one - it was BAD. Don't worry, though, I had to change the sheets anyway - glad I waited!

We're back!

Actually, we've been back for a couple of days now, but they have been busy days (more on that later) so this is the first chance I've had to blog. And as far as catching up on all the blogs I like to read... forget about it. Maybe I'll be able to chip away at that this week. Don't want to miss the goings-on in the homes of all my favorite mommy bloggers!

So, the car ride to Virginia was a breeze. Really! Samuel did SO great, he didn't fuss to get out of the car once! Not that he really enjoyed being in the car, but he knew we just had to get through it. At one gas station when I tried to get him out to stretch, he didn't want to because he just wanted to get back on the road and get there as fast as possible!

Samuel loved the map I made for him so that he could track our progress, but it took him a little while to get the hang of using it and understanding how fast we moved from each point to the next. When we first got it out, at the Illinois/Indiana border, he took the little car magnet and slid it slowly (so he thought) along the highway, taking about 5 seconds to get all the way to Ohio, and then asked, "Am I moving it too slow, mama?" Um, not exactly, dear. We, unfortunately, were not travelling in a craft that can go 108,000 miles per hour. (Yes, I calculated approximately how fast you'd have to go to cross Indiana in 5 seconds. Yes, I am a geek.)

He also spent 5 hours playing with a little starter set of K'Nex I decided to toss in the bag at the last minute. 5 hours. God bless the makers of K'Nex. We also listened to one of the story CDs by Jim Weiss, and Samuel loved it. I am very impressed and we hope to get lots more of these.

So, that was our ride there. Then, while we were actually at my grandparents' house in the mountains of northwest Virginia, we had tons of fun. Our daily routine went something like this: wake up earlier than I want to because Samuel wants to get up and see who else is awake, drink coffee on the back porch while gazing at the lake and chatting with everyone over breakfast, go play tennis - badly - with dh, my sister, and mother, in various combinations, come back to the house for lunch and try not to stand too close to anyone because I am now drenched in sweat, and finally take Samuel in the lake, which he has been begging for since about ten minutes after waking up. He has a life jacket so that he can swim safely, and loves being able to paddle around independently. Long after our sunscreen has worn off, we trudge back up the hill to the house, shower, have dinner, and then play canasta until we're all exhausted.

While there we got to see lots of family. Great-Grandma and Great-Granddaddy, of course, and my parents and sister were there, but also my Uncle Gil, his girlfriend Carol, my cousins Wesley and Daniel, my mom's Aunt Mary and Uncle Tom, and Aunt Mary Ellen and Uncle Bob.

Here is one of the many creatures we spotted on our trip. There were many, many more, but I was a terrible photographer for the whole trip. I only took 2 pictures. Yes, only 2! This moth, and the turtle below. We were just having so much fun I forgot about the camera every time until it was too late. Oh, well. We also saw deer, rabbits, hawks, purple martins, a woodpecker, a blue heron, various other birds, a snapping turtle, frogs, fish (I caught a bass, and Shawn caught a bluegill), and some bats.
One of my favorite wildlife encounters were when we were swimming in the lake and a deer came out of the woods and came to graze under a nearby tree. He didn't seem to notice us, and came very close and stayed there for several minutes. Samuel stayed very quiet and swam pretty close to him and got a good, long look. After the deer finally left, my dad commented that he'd never seen Samuel be quiet for so long. Samuel replied, "Well, I am when I'm sleeping!" My other favorite was when my sister and Samuel and I were out on the golf cart riding through the trails and came upon a rabbit. He was initially afraid of us and seemed undecided whether to freeze or run, but we sat quietly, and he decided we weren't a threat, sat up, and proceded to very thoroughly wash his face!

After a week of fun and visiting, we had to go home. The return trip also went very smoothly. Samuel had a bit more technological assistance this time, since my parents had a DVD player. He watched 2 movies along the way, and thanks to my dad's lead foot, we were home in no time.

Unfortunately, dh had to go to Ohio after only 3 days of Virginia fun, and will be there another 2 weeks to finish one of his on-campus courses for his master's degree from Franciscan University.
I really wish we all could have stayed in Virginia just a little bit longer - the time always flies by. Well, there's always next summer!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Yes, I should be packing, but...

I just heard a radio weatherman describe our current conditions as "tropical". Ha. If this is tropical, where's my umbrella drink? We don't do "tropical" in central Illinois. I guess telling the public that we are having swamp-like conditions doesn't get you the job of Upbeat Meteorologist. Hmm, I'm cynical today, aren't I?

unschooling on wheels

So, I mentioned that we are leaving for Virginia tomorrow. It is a 12-hour drive if you don't stop. We have a 5-year-old boy whom any doctor would be happy to stuff with Ritalin after spending 2 minutes in the same room with him. If you do the math, you will see that we will be lucky to arrive by early next week, and that we will be even luckier to arrive with our sanity. So, say a little prayer for us, and see if you can add to my List Of Distractions-So-That-Samuel-Won't-Notice-That-We-Are-Not-There-Yet-And-He-Is-Hungry-Again-And-His-Legs-Hurt-And-When-He-Tries-To-Sleep-His-Head-Flops-Everywhere-And-Makes-His-Neck-Hurt-And-We-Are-Still-In-The-Car-And-He-Wants-OUT-And-He-Has-To-Go-Potty-And-The-Next-Exit-Is-Not-For-Another-17-Miles-And-OH-NO-Is-The-Traffic-Backed-Up-Again-Why-Does-Every-State-From-Here-To-Virginia-Have-To-Do-Road-Construction-On-Every-Major-Highway-In-July-And-No-We-Are-Still-Not-There-It's-Not-Even-Lunchtime-Yet. Um, henceforth, known simply as The List:

1. A map of our route, with a little magnetic marker so that he can chart our progress and see for himself that WE ARE NOT THERE YET.

2. Jim Weiss storytelling CDs. Haven't listened to these yet, but we got King Arthur, Arabian Nights, and Greek Myths.

3. Various other CDs: Shel Silverstein, Sandra Boynton's Philadelphia Chickens, Veggie Tales.

4. Some small toys for the car which will inevitably be dropped between his car seat and the door where I cannot retrieve them until we get through the road construction to that rest stop in 17 miles.

5. Art supplies so we can draw what we see.

I'm tapped. Help me out here and see what you can add to The List. Oh, and I should mention that the return trip will be made without dh, who will be going directly to Steubenville, OH to take a class for his Master's degree, and that we will be riding with my parents and sister instead. Yes, a 12-hour trip with my son and my father, who doesn't stop unless we need to refuel. The car, that is. We eat while we drive, of course. *sob* We will have a DVD player on the way home, but of course I'd rather not use it, being the natural parenting snob that I am. Maybe it doesn't count if I bring something educational, like March of the Penguins. Yeah, I think we'll be empathizing with those penguins right around when we hit Kentucky. If we make it that far.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

28th Carnival of Homeschooling up here, at Why Homeschool. Go check out this fun-filled, summer-themed carnival!

In other news, blogging will be very light for the next couple of weeks because we are heading off to Virginia on Thursday to visit my grandparents, who do not have an internet connection. In fact, I'm not sure if they even have a computer. But that's okay, because they do have a lake, mountains, woods, bunnies, deer, and the occasional bear, among other things, so we will have plenty to keep us busy! Hopefully I'll make it to the library once or twice to keep up with the blogosphere, though. :)

Speaking of libraries, read Karen Edmisten's post on how so many people are missing out on them. So, make sure your kids don't become one of these statistics. Read, read, read to them. And then watch them dress up as Dr. Seuss characters.

Samuel with his "Sam-I-Am hair"

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Christmas in July!

Go to the World eBook Fair now. Really, go now. Because from July 4 until August 4, you can download any of their 330,000 eBooks free. Yes, you read that right. 330,000. Free. Books. They have classics like Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea, and Treasure Island, and Dracula. They have classic children's books, scanned in so you get the original illustrations! They have poetry, and physics, and sacred texts, and so much more! I hope you have a lot of space on your hard drive. Mine is about to be filled.

HT: Melissa Wiley

What could be better...

...than being five years old and playing in a cool sprinkler on a hot, hot day?

Beautiful... and icky

My favorite daylilies are blooming. Just wanted to share! At least this is one plant not being devoured by the swarms of Japanese beetles that are now terrorizing my garden. They are so thick here that when you drive down country roads, surrounded by soybean fields, the nasty little creatures ping off the windshield at the rate of about one per second, leaving lovely green streaks of bug goo. Hmm, that was one post that started off all nice and sunny and promptly got unpleasant. Sorry about that.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Dreaming of yarn

The summer issue of Knitty is out! I love, love, love Knitty patterns. Of course, I've never actually gotten around to knitting them - or much of anything for that matter. I am determined to not be one of those people with the gigantic yarn/fabric/pattern/etc. stash. I WILL finish sewing and knitting up my current projects before I embark on anything else. But in the meantime, I will continue to drool over the latest batch of sock patterns, and think about how good that scarf would look with the skirt I plan to sew... someday.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

God bless America

Happy Independence Day! I really enjoyed Scott's post over at Left of the Dial today, and you will too! We are hoping to find some fireworks for Samuel tonight. He got his first dose on Saturday at the Arch in St. Louis. Their fireworks have really gone downhill from what they used to be, but it was the first time Samuel had ever seen them (well, that he wasn't immediately carried away in terror), and he was completely captivated. I only wish I had brought my camera to preserve the smile of wonder on his face when the show began.

This webquiz seems appropriate today: How American are you? I have to say, I have no idea how they score this thing. I think they are defining "American" as being politically conservative. Is that fair? Isn't America the one place where you can believe just about whatever you want and not be any less American? I will admit that I am sometimes thoroughly depressed by the state of our country - does that make me un-American? Or does it mean I love America enough to not want it to continue in a downward spiral? If you take the quiz, ignore the score, but think about what it really means to be an American.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Hooray! ...and, goodnight.

There is another new carnival in the blogosphere! Go check out Unschooling Voices over at A Day in Our Lives. I am really excited to read everyone's posts, and I hope to participate in the future! But first, I need to go to bed since I need to get up in 6 hours. Pics from my weekend coming soon...