Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Above Average

"215.  That's how many times an average U.S. household runs its dishwasher in a year--more than four cycles a week." ~ Good Housekeeping

I may be below average in many aspects of my life (the cleanliness of my floor, fashion sense, make-up application techniques) but it this area, baby I'm rocking it!  There are times when we run the dishwasher four times in a day!  Okay, it only feels like it, but when you prepare and serve up 19 plates of food per day (21 on weekends) you rack up the dishes.

You know, one would think it would feel invigorating to be above average.  But in this case, invigorating is not the word that comes to mind.  Hmmm.  That really does not motivate me to improve my ratings in the floor, fashion and make-up departments.  Oh well.  Can't rock 'em all.

Happy dishwashing!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Happy Saturday faithful readers (all two of you -- hi moms of mine)!  I was looking through photos this week and plucked out a few to share that I feel truly represent life in this house full of boys.

 Lego ninja chess!
 The book series of choice these days.  Isaac, Luke and Wade are all reading through these, so we've perpetually got three or more volumes checked out from the library. 
Something you will never hear a group of girls say: "Let's all go down the fire pole at once!"
That's all.  Hope your weekend is lovely!

Monday, April 16, 2012

In the past three days...

In the past three days I've...

... planted asparagus,
... planted potatoes,
... pulled weeds,
... smiled over daffodils,
... seen a bumblebee,
... taken out all my strawberry plants, dumped a truck-load of manure into the patch, tilled it all up (okay, actually Wade tilled it) and replanted the strawberry plants,
... pulled the grass from between many (but not nearly all) the bricks around the yard,
... pulled out two of the five overgrown plants I'm getting rid of this year (I know, me, getting rid of plants -- unheard of!)
... seen the tips of hostas peeking through the soil
... gotten grass stains on my jeans,
and nearly worn through the fingertips of my favorite pair of gardening gloves.

It's been a really great few days!  I just love spring!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Paper Airplanes

The art of folding a paper airplane is something every child, particularly every boy, should know in order to grow into a well-adjusted and healthy man.  While they are little, I am perfectly willing to carefully craft their origami flying machines, but come about six years old, they must learn to do it themselves.  And this is a trial for me.  Because I like straight lines and neat folds.  And every time Elijah comes to me with a kittywampus airplane in progress, it takes much inner strength to not press it out flat and start it all over.  But this is part of parenting.  Letting them learn and grow and make mistakes and improve.  And I think it's probably good for me to learn how to let them learn now, while they're young and their biggest struggles are with making straight folds.  The day will come when they will have a task much bigger, more difficult and critical than making paper airplanes.  And I pray that when it arrives we'll both be ready for it -- them to work at it as for the Lord, and me to let them do their best, even if it means crooked lines.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Good Day

Today will be a good day,
And I will make it so–
I cannot make the sun come out;
I cannot make the flowers sprout;
I cannot make the fishes bite,
Nor blow the wind beneath my kite.
But I can wear a friendly smile
And listen to the trees a while
And laugh real loud and run real fast
And make each moment such a blast.
I can sing though skies be gray,
‘Cause I am captain of my day.
by Barbara Vance
from “Suzie Bitner was afraid of the Drain"

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Highlight of the School Year

The boys and I (maybe more I than them) have been enjoying a rockin' fun unit study on national parks.  We spent five weeks on it while we paused our regular science curriculum to wait for bugs and worms to make themselves findable.

We started off with a history of the national parks system and the radical idea of having places in our country that belong to everyone and are protected in their (mostly) natural state for generations to enjoy.  That sounds so normal to us now.  I know I take for granted that the Grand Canyon, the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde, and the California Redwoods will be around when I want to see them.  But in many countries, people buy up the most scenic and impressive places and make homes or shopping malls out of them.  The US was the first country to preserve uniquely beautiful places for the public delight, and dozens of countries have since followed suit.

Then we spent a week each on four different parks, each of which lent themselves so well to other interesting studies.  Glacier National Park has lots of fascinating history, but along with the park itself, we learned about ecosystems and habitats.  When we studied North Cascades National Park, we also spent a day learning about (and building!) dams, since Ross Lake, a favorite camping spot in that area, is formed by a dam.  In studying Theodore Roosevelt National Park, we tied in lots of interesting information about Teddy Roosevelt himself and conservation, since that was a passion of his life and presidency.  
Turning celery red and blue illustrated the effects of ground pollution on plants -- part of the conservation study.

And finally we wrapped up with a week on Wind Cave National Park, learning about caves in general, and taking a field trip to Wind Cave in South Dakota.

Wade and Isaac held up Isaac's shirt in front of the cave opening to show the intensity of the wind blowing out.  It was almost 20 mph that day, but has been clocked at up to 70 mph!
This incredible formation found almost exclusively in Wind Cave is called boxwork.
I am so taken with the beauty, the nature, the philosophy of a national parks system.  I'd love to spend a whole year or two and actually cover all 58 parks plus some national monuments, forests, seashores and landmarks (although I'd definitely want to find an actual curriculum for that, rather than building my own every week!).  Maybe someday I'll actually create that curriculum... for my grandkids.