Thursday, November 19, 2015

Sleeping potion

Several months ago I was wearily wanting my kids to just go to bed.  I'd spent all day with them, talking etc., reading to them, listening to the chirping of their pretending in the other room, and frankly wanting some selfish quiet time.  I don't remember when exactly I remembered the spray bottle of scent from Bath and Body, but the word SLEEP jumped out at me.  They carry a line of aromatherapy products and I have had this bottle called sleep for years!    It came to me that I could tell the kids it was sleeping potion and spray them right before bed.  

The kids were giddy!   They got sprayed and pretended to be immediately effected and then they went off to bed with a smiles on their faces.  It was a welcome change.

That was several months ago, and somewhere along the line we stopped doing this.  We are back to kids dragging their feet when told to scoot off to bed.  This drives a parent nuts.  It isn't news it drives us bats.  The words, "I just need a few minutes to call my own!", want to escape my mouth.  So......where did I put the sleeping potion??!!!    Today I am going to find that stuff and reinstate sleeping potion time again.  I made a little mental note too that they would do better if I tucked them in bed at night as they love that and THEN spray them with sleeping potion.  Their rooms will smell better too.  Nervous giggle.

Bath and Body or your local lavender farmer will supply all your needs.  Sleep well!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Kids are normal

The phrase that kids will be kids is so true.  I'm trying to wrap my head more around this when finding messes and taking it all less personally so hat maybe my marbles will stay somewhat together.  A lot of thing in life are just normal.  The toddlers rearrange the house as a regular rule in the name of curiosity.  The energy of pre adolescents can amaze us.  The ability for them to bypass messes is really normal.  It doesn't really matter to them.  They are not of an age to understand the value of what food costs or whether a cup has sentimental value to you as it gets broken.  These events are not personal threats to you.

I can mentally understand the concept of oblivious accidents and messes and even remind other parents of the same.  The puppy dog eyed five year old who might have spilled twenty pounds of oatmeal on the floor really wasn't trying to upset his mom.  So why can't I always recognize this for myself.   Giving kids to do lists without believing they have secret meetings to make you crazy by ignoring you.  The behavior is just normal.

I want to remember this to lower my own stress and just simply have normal cleaning times and lists without internalizing it all.  Every normal child has waited to the last second lest they've discovered.   I remember doing it.  I was an expert.  I was normal.  So talented too I'm sure.  I fought with great skill with my brother and I'm not sure how we made it out alive.   Such awesome memories.

Moving forward with today's tasks and routine is just normal too.   I can't add anything more to our live or implode.   Yeah.  That is a thing.  I do hope that improves as the littles get older so exploring other activities doesn't add to my work load but for now I will just try to be at peace with the normal which is mine.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Learning together and not panicking together

There are all these subjects I'm supposed to get to with my crowd at home.   I personally just want them to know how to learn.  It is a challenge not to panic.  I know I don't want to sign my name on a diploma which does not include the bases covered so there in lies the challenge.  I truly believe that if kids acquire the skills of curiosity and how to find out information then they will be able to do whatever is laid before them.

I'm currently puzzling over how to cover he sciences even though they know a lot just by experience. Math seems to shadow everything for attention.  Grrrrrr.   Apologia is really college level and very time consuming.  I suppose I could pick out some of the chapters and not feel pressured into doing it all.  If the student has an affinity for the sciences then they can forge ahead.  I do not remember science being that in depth in high school so why kill the day going nuts over this time.  I'm thinking this through while writing as time is of a premium for me.  

I am fighting the panic as I have two kids still working on transitioning to being more confident readers and an older kid who struggles with approaching directions on his math and grammar lessons and I need him to gain confidence in those areas.  It......can......get.......overwhelming.  

We love our group time reading books together and I think everyone would love to just stay there.   Perhaps biology needs to become a family project in order to get it done.  Why not.  We can hang together with the sciences and get through.   I think I'm going to give this thought a whirl.  The younger kids love learning so I can't magi be they would be turned off by this.  I want a plan which requires more hands on experience I think.  If I could find an older text book it probably would just move along better than Apologia.  Why do we all use Apologia as if more is better for our young people.   Sigh.  I will never get the kids through all that is expected if we have to do it perfectly.

This is just me thinking this through.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Building blocks of Home Educating

Teaching your little people requires patience and viewing little bits of progress as the recipe to success and even fun times between the parent and the child. With a wee little one, the time that is taken to teach them to sit through a board book and finally stop flipping the pages, leads to being able to sit through all of the book.  The child's attention span increases as the level of complexity of a book increases.  This is NOT twaddle but learning.

Math for a little involves beginning with board books and all of life during the day.  Simple counting of things like stairs, stuffed animals, blocks going on a block tower is math.  Counting peas and potatoes.  You don't have to be neurotic about it but there are opportunities to ease kids into listening, learning, and most importantly the ability to sit still and pay attention.  Do little people HAVE to sit still?   No, but it seems to me that even those kids who are defined as hyperactive, can be trained to temper their wiggles bit by bit as the parent cranks up the time paying attention slowly, having patience to let time pass and attention increase.

What a parent shouldn't do is expect their little people to go from never sitting in anyone's lap listening to stories to instantaneously expecting them to be able to listen to chapter books.  That is unrealistic.     It is similar to learning an instrument.   You begin at the beginning, learning notes and practicing and it takes time to make progress.

Hope this pondering is helpful to someone.  I just think it is wise to break down the learning process so that learning is just a natural thing.  More later......

Monday, November 2, 2015

Lowering Expectations

The best homeschool convention talk I ever went to was from a lady who spoke on how we need to lower our expectations for our schooling endeavors.  Less is more. ( I restarted blogging as a mom once said that she learned a lot from m blog back when I wrote more regularly.)  I think every home educator feels the panic that they think they need to cram in as many subjects as possible AND be some sort of house keeping wonder people.  I know I have deceived myself into thinking this was possible.

How to implement structure of less in my book is to actually have structure to the day.  I mentioned in a previous post the course of my day going in a regular order of Catechesis, to read aloud time, history reading and discussion then breaking into phonics, writing and older kids working on their math and practicing.  This is the rhythm of each day.  We get stuff done.  I still get tempted by other sources to implement but I have to tell myself "NO!"   Sticking to the tasks at hand is a must or I start getting very irritable and frustrated and the immediate reaction of the kids is to scatter to the four winds.

Unschooling's only appeal to me is to instill a love of learning.  I'm sure I will have talked about so many topics, philosophical musings, theological chats, truths of life as they proceed in living their different stages and choices, that I will surely sleep well in my old age.  I do wonder how I will keep everything straight as more stages of my life and theirs come along but hanging onto living this day in faith in my vocations is more the obvious solution.  Simplify and routine just solve a Miriam of stresses.  I cannot say enough to guard your time for the sake of family sanity.   If someone suggests some twaddle activity consider the loss to the time available.  24 hours is all we get and it can be anxiety ridden or stepped through as a matter of course.  All I desire is peace in my family and a handle on my children worrying more about their own choices and running from the temptation to compare.

More later.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Richness in Learning

Sticking closer to home has resulted in a steady increase in learning experience.  Our day begins as soon as we can manage it with Catechesis.  Cecilia has been working on playing the hymn of the week on the piano with us so that in itself riches our experience.  I've felt for a long time that the practice of praying and singing together has the added benefit of the kids learning what it means to sing well.  I learned from hearing my parents and growing up in a rich music environment. The environment of music does matter in being able to carry a tune that's for sure.

This year we have revived the read aloud.  Training their little ears to pay attention to hearing books in general read.  The kids ask questions while we read, everything is enhanced with better understanding of word use and a clearer picture of the characters of biographies and fiction which shape our history and world. If I read some random fact I didn't know before than I tell them.  I think it adds to their love of learning knowing their mom doesn't know everything and is still learning.

The rest of our day in stepping through teaching the little people to read and work on their math.  I love watching their faces in the effort.  They can hardly contain themselves as reading gets easier.  The action verb of learning is very cool to watch.   Most of the kids have music to practice and I have tried to take a much larger role in their practicing and helping them with their goals.  I can't lie, working with our cello player is loads of fun as I love the instrument and my little cello player is very connected with his work.  My brain feels like it overflows with happy as learning continues.

I think I'm addicted to learning.  There seriously are days when I don't want to stop teaching.  These are my little charges and I'm thankful I still have the opportunity to play a part in their education.  I have about three weeks left to keep up this pace before we take a little break.   I want to make everyone's books to see where they are now and where we end up.  Focusing on learning at home has been a huge blessing this year.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Prison camp meals

A few have asked to elaborate on this activity.  I started a new game at our house when too many leftovers crop up.  Too many leftovers leave me feeling a bit crazed as I know how much the food cost and even the effort to make it is wasted in my book if the food is by-passed for 'fun' food.  So every so often I instigate prison camp food days where no further food is purchased until the leftovers are eaten.  I am an odd fan of "A Day in the Life of Ivan D" so I make sure to set the scene of hard work and hungry tummies.  Ivan's tummy was beyond hungry but you get the drift here.  The poor little faces show up to meal time and I bring in what is the oldest and still edible and declare it be eaten before its younger refrigerator neighbors are brought forth.  To be fair to my prisoners I hav tried to prepare less food per meal so it is bound to all get eaten at meals before it can become prison camp food but every so often this event has to happen.  If your family members have striped shirts they can wear them to make meal time more exciting.  That is just a side note.....

Friday, October 30, 2015

My Own History. Curriculum

I'm tired of trying to follow plans and curricula that has me tediously plodding along.    This year I've finally succumbed to going with our curiosity and reading books related to the time period we are currently reading.  We are currently working on the 1750's and the French and Indian War.   I decided to start reading biographies of some of the key players of this period out loud to the kids and they love it.  I love it when they recognize the intermingling of people's lives.  I had no idea Daniel Boone participated in the French and Indian War.  He was in the same area as young George Washington.

I have collected so many biographies through the years we will just revel in reading and referencing a DK history outline to see how we are progressing.  I have been grilling them with dates and admitting that until I home educated my own kids some of these time periods were lost on me.

I love history and wish I did this a long time ago.  Perfectionism and fear have kept me from marching forward with this sort of plan.  I cannot wait to start the next book explaining how the French came to New Orleans.  We spend enough time traveling there so it makes sense for the kids to learn more of it's history.  Learning is at a premium this year.  Yay!

Keeping quieter

I have found there are folk who talk a lot.   This is their personality.  Who knows why some of us talk more than others but that's the way it is.  I'm running an experiment on how my introverted personality can better handle talking.  

It has occurred to me that one of the reasons I start to inwardly squirm at 'much great talking' is that the talker is usually not gifted at listening and what I share in the exchange is easily lost or misunderstood which leads to me choosing between explaining or correcting or smiling and waving.  So I have decided to put the brakes on with these interchanges and focus on what the other person is talking about for the sake of comfort.  Since it is already a given that we tick in different ways, sucking in my need to tell my own tales does help me as I have an overt need to be understood.  I.....don'  In love for the other person I can keep my trap shut and listen.  

All of these exchanges stem from a need to be heard and understood.  What the extrovert probably doesn't understand is that the introvert takes longer to say what is on their mind.   So why should I exacerbate the struggle by badly needing to be heard.  Why not just save vignettes for other conversations.  Perhaps it's not true of all introverts but this introvert is simply less stressed by keeping things inside in idle conversation.  Idle conversation can be such a time of discomfort that running this experiment seems worth the effort.

Hopefully I can remember this technique for more than a week so it becomes more of my mold and have less of a struggle.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Vocation as Grandmother

Writing that title surprises me even though she is 17 months old now.  She doesn't live close but as I watch her little self growing and changing I am humbled and amazed by her gift and presence in my life.  She is her parents child.  For me it is a pleasure to watch them bond with her and each other in raising her and in anticipating her younger sibling early next year.  Wow.  

I've puzzled over hearing other grandma's view of their children parenting their grandchildren.  Meddling and sticking one's nose in where it isn't vocationally needed comes to mind.  I try to bear this in mind as I float along with my family.  Acting like adults together I think helps the kids realize that is how they are viewed.  Our own children cease to need monitoring or advice and need more of an open door policy and respect of their choices.  We moms and dads don't have to fix things for them.

I'm writing this bit down while basking in the amazing gift of adult children.  Daughter dear and I enjoy each other.  I enjoy spending time with my son-in-law.  I enjoy my other kids no matter what age.  I enjoy my granddaughter so much. They are all individuals and that relationship of respect began young.  Care and attention shifts and changes.  Even as I revel in my granddaughter I am aching to see my own children.  They are all the individuals God created them to be.

I am having a had time putting into words what it means to cherish each offspring for who they are and to be able to rest in the confidence that they will learn and mature at their own pace and my attempts to put any pressure on them to be people they aren't will not help them as their various vocations change along the way.  Pressure and unwanted advice is mostly patronizing as I look back on some conversations pointed at me as a young person.  I hope that I can hang onto taking an interest in my children's lives which will not invade and harm our relationship.  Respecting the parents is one way I see my role as a grandmother.  Idolizing the grandchild will not help the child.  If my grandchildren want their parents and not me I give thanks.  I love it.  She has been a delight to watch as her parents are a delight to watch while they go about their vocations. Christ has them covered and that is all that is needed.  I love them so and look forward to seeing them again and look forward to the next grand baby and any more I am blessed with in the future.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Grieving- Everyone is different

I have gotten the picture that everyone has a different experience with grief.  I've heard that before but I suppose no one as significant to me as dad has died in my own life.  It is a different experience than when one of my best friends daughter died so then that makes every grief different.   Olivia dying rocked my world in a much different way as I was just crazed in love for her family and THEIR loss.   I loved Olivia dearly.  I sorely miss her.  The pain for their family was numbing.  I could walk with them but didn't live literally through it with them.

Now Olivia's parents are comforting me by listening to the sea of my own confusion of dad being gone now.  It seems a tunnel of processing which I never considered.   Everyone is different.  Dad has really not been himself for a long time but even the hope that that could change is  final.  The best last time was showing him pictures from the thirties of his family.  He was so quiet and looking so intently.  I'm weird. Those people who are also gone now, meant a great deal to dad and that memory is at rest too.   It was a comfort though to me that he had that attachment to them still in spite of his dementia.

The last few days have been trying.  My inside has been a mess but there is no t-shirt so it isn't apparent on the outside.  That means other people are wearing the same shirt and we don't know it.  I have a lot of people to take care of and I'm not feeling a lot of want to do that.  I am muddling along through it and hoping for a let up.

It is several days later since I last wrote.  Wrapping these thoughts up I have been thinking a lot about how to handle my own internal grieving in light of pressing forward with the living.  I can not possibly expect anyone to know what goes on.  I only know that Christ's peace is still true always now and eternally.  The kids are asking good questions and are at ease with death as a part of life.  They encourage me and I am thankful they haven't been shut off from the reality of death as part of life.

Muddling forward.  Every day is different.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015


A schoolteacher friend of mine declared her desire to spend as much time outside as possible this summer to offset her inside time.  Being outside seems like a worthy goal.  I have ten acres of yard to tend, some easy and some more difficult.   Last summer I was away so much that the jungle certainly had a chance to creep in.  There are vines everywhere!!!    Clipping, mulching, digging, and loving almost every minute of it.   The weeds are ridiculous.  I figure I can't take too many days off in a row or the yard will eat me in my sleep.

Thirteen hives have kept me hopping and pleasantly addicted to bonding with all their cute little selves.   The bees are pretty weary of all the rain we've had and I admit it is fascinating figuring out the effects of bees being trapped in the hive making more bees.  Ooh, la la.  So many bees in the making but not as much honey as I'd like to see but a bee needs to get out and stretch every now and then to bring in the pollen.

My vegetable garden is not as bad off as it could be.  Pole beans seem to be a wise choice as they can climb away from the dirt.  Zucchini wins every year to bury us in zucchini.   I hope my friends like them.  The corn will be good if we get around to weeding it.  My brother put me onto a kind of roundup to beat down the exterior weeds.  The weeds are actually dead there. Whoa.

So every few days I am worse than tired.  I slept for twelve hours last night!   Another friend suggested drinking more water and Google has confirmed that as a good idea.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015


is done with his battle.  I didn't realize I hadn't blogged since dad was making his rapid decline.  Now I read my last post and think about how now I am in the process of defining my new normal of not having dad's prescence in my life.  I'm sure it is sort of obvious to anyone who has experienced grief but I haven't lost a parent till now and the hole in everyday experience amazes me.   Dad is everywhere.   I read an article and think about dad's possible reaction.  I weed the garden and think about how much he paid attention to gardens.  I pronounce a word and know he won't be bothered by my pronunciation.  So.......weird.

I should write more about the last few weeks so I can read it later when I might forget it.  I'm mostly thankful he is done with his labor of life and is at rest from it all.

Monday, June 8, 2015

The hard questions

Everyone is concerned about my dads eating or lack of it including me of course.  I sat with him for at least two hours talking about the food and why it would be good to eat more.  I tol him it would help him feel better many times and he would take one or two bites.  He will not let anyone feed him.  When you say  "You should eat some more dad" he asks why.  He hates all of this.  When he expressed not knowing what to do with himself during the day all I could do as encourage him to do those things he's always done such as reading and listening to music and watching TV at night.  He mostly wants to sleep and I can understand that too.   Lifting a persons spirits who can't remember the names of basic things or the people he spent time with at the university and church has got to be pretty confusing and discouraging.

I hope to go soon with a friend and play my horn a bit for him.  I hope that helps a bit.  Otherwise I would just like to spend time with him and normalize our time together by just being there reading and whatever we would have done in his living room.  Pondering what people do as a matter of course in life rather than talking him like crazy requiring answers sounds like plan.  I personally can go nutty when people ask me tons of questions which require me to reply.

Today I am at home playing catch up.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Sweet tea

My father dear is terrible at staying hydrated so the funny to me from the other day as he walks through dementia, was watching him chug down two big glasses of sweet tea.  My face probably gave away my surprise.  My Yankee mother never made sweet tea but the nursing home does and perhaps it will give him some time to visit with family and feel a bit better.   I find it sort of amusing. He always was the best patient of the doctor about following diet restrictions for blood pressure etc so dementia perhaps has allowed him throw caution to the wind since it simply tastes good to him but he can't tell me what it is he is drinking.   His food might become more appealing too?  I don't know.  One day at a time will tell so will try not and think about that too much.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Writing it down

I am frequently reminded lately of the transitions all around me in my life and in friends lives.   Births, graduations, weddings and funerals do happen all the time but I am the meat in the sandwich right now so it is all pretty intense.  Either that or I am just more attuned to it.  All of the grandparents are still living and I want to write down my thoughts etc as we walk this road.   A friends mother recently died and I saw her and didn't even offer my condolences.  Ugh.

 Everyone is mostly quietly walking along through this life journey and we care for each other even if it is through a quiet prayer of thanksgiving or plea for mercy for them.  I tend to pray these things as I see them in passing and they are having a rough time.  If I go to a wedding I know better the flux they are going through as their children move to the next stage of life.  It is a new stage for the parents too.  Reading of my friends coming home from their kids weddings to quiet.  Sigh.  It isn't too quiet here yet at my home and only have one chick flown to her own husband and now baby girl, but I being a people watcher, I am sort of quietly aware of those new and different experiences for my friends.

I will keep this own transition now is my dad's mind failing him.  I am overwhelmed with how had this is to watch.  The daily stress of his caretakers patiently working with him.  My mom took care of him as long as she was physically and mentally able.  I visited him this past weekend in his new home in memory care.  Sigh.  He is so different but glimmers of familiarity.   True grammar nazis will take it to the grave even if the corrected is not making any grammatical errors.   Grammar, grammar, grammar.

To be continued.......

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Day Off

Almost every day there is something I have to go do and today I woke up and realized there was nothing I *had* to do today.   Phew.   Now I don't want to do anything at all.   I am going to try to be satisfied with the little amount which does get accomplished and then go back to bed again this evening.   We have to actually rest sometime right?   I need more days and maybe weeks like this.   My dear husband is stressed to the max with work and I pointed out to him that if he slept a bunch on the weekend it might actually be a good idea for his sanity and health.   We have stuff to do this weekend in the line of recitals and competitions etc but hey, a nap here and there won't kill us.   Moral of the story?   Don't feel guilty if you fall asleep on the couch every so often.   Your body might be telling you something.  

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Piano Competitions

I am getting a little more seasoned at these things now and think I did a better job clearing the stress crazies of a house full of people out of the way so we could calmly leave the house and head out to prepare for dear daughters performance.   Phew.   She had a goal of practicing her piece 100 times this week and made it to 81.   Wow.   She knew it well.   Tweaked, polished and well played.   Several area teachers made a point of coming to her and telling her what a fine job she did.  I was so pleased for her.   

 I do try hard to not be an oppressive parent.   It seems to be a dance of not leaving them completely to their own devices coupled with helping them set goals and listening well at her lessons.   Hearing her teacher work with her floats my boat.   People who teach well are a joy to listen to.   She draws out their strengths and keeps them accountable to the weak areas without crushing them.   Her teacher is  honest though too and doesn't just fling  praise around.   It has been a privilege to have her teach my kid.  And it is a pleasure to listen to my daughter play while lounging around the living room.  Ahhhh.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Side tracked and whining a bit

That phrase seems to apply to almost everything.   Shakespeare hardly made it out of the starting gates and my uncle got sick and in a very short time died.   That took me to Minnesota for several weeks and only left time to breathe in between.   I did spend some valuable time with my dying uncle, my extended family, and  my own family in a context outside of normal.   That saying that stress is the new normal is pretty true, but if I push aside the stuff which seems important, then stress goes down a lot.   I'm still not back on my feet per se and sort of want to do absolutely nothing for a long time.   I have more items on my to do list to take care of where it concerns my uncle.   I am going to have to make myself make the necessary phone calls, and fill out the paperwork.  

Right now I am listening to awesome horn music and sinking my teeth into it's awesomeness.   I might have to look this particular concerto up and see if I can get the music.   I seem out of touch somehow with regular tasks and being alone away from the messes and constant needs and my self inflicted guilt over not getting to all the things which are waiting for my attention.  

Syrup season appears it will be short lived this year.   I suppose it could still get pretty cold again and get the water moving again.   I haven't collected yet but the kids and hubby have.   I've been attempting to focus on the kids school and making up for the time I was gone.

And.....I've wanted to blog more.   I need to write my days out of my head a bit since finding an audience besides myself is not readily available in light of crumbs on the table and floor and my desperate need for kids to help keep up after that.   The divorced socks persistently make me nutty too.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015


I am trying to get a handle on how to read Shakespeare because I want to.   When I read Shakespeare, I start to Shakespeare speak.   I ordered a book this morning to help me figure out how to read the lesser known plays.   I suppose this is Karin giving herself a crash course in Shakespeare, even if it takes a year.   I can't even remember the name of the play I am reading now....pause to check.  I think it is called "Two Gentleman" and now I am currently getting lost in what is going on.  

I am sure this is too lofty a goal to try to work on right now but hey, I am tired of being ignorant of all things Shakespeare.   I  only know a little.   My high school English teacher, who I loved and sadly can't remember her name, was awesome at helping us understand what we were reading.   I have carried that reading with me to other books read and I also get to understand some of the more subtle jokes in movies etc.   That seems like a fun reason to read the plays right?   Hopefully I don't look back at this post months from now and realize I forgot to keep reading them.   Here goes!