Tuesday, January 31, 2012


I am a "Why?" person. I don't mind doing what you want if you'll tell me the reason. I don't think this is always a bad thing--it is good to know why, you can learn a lot that way. As such, I have tried, whenever feasible, to answer our kiddos, "Why's?"

Our minister made the point a few weeks ago that when our kids are asking, "Why?" they are no longer obeying, they are deciding if they agree. Hmm.

I still think teaching my children why we do things is important, so I chewed on that idea for a while. I came up with a new strategy. Now our rule is immediate obedience, but you are welcome to ask about the reason later.

Why immediate obedience? I know that is not popular in many circles, but here's the thing: I don't need to be telling you why I said stop as you continue walking in front of a moving car.

And then there is the other part of the parent child relationship. The one where we are learning to obey our earthly parents, who we can see, in order to learn how to obey the heavenly Father we can't.

Last week I was sitting thinking about a family who recently lost their home to a fire. It is tragic of course, but they have insurance. They will be able to rebuild and purchase replacements for things that were lost, as much as they are able to be found. I felt that I needed to make them a quilt. That was silly I thought, after all they could buy bedding at the store, right? If they bought it they would get what they wanted. I was in the middle of making my quilt. I didn't even know what sized bed they keep. That's silly. Nope. The feeling didn't go away. I still needed to make them a quilt.


Okay then. So I messaged their daughter on Facebook. She could tell me with what size bed I was working. When she wrote back with the size, she asked me why I wanted to know. I told her what I was up to and she told me that they had lost the quilt on their bed and this would mean so much to them. She also told me what colors they decorate in.

As a tiny foretaste of what it will be when I get to give them the quilt one of these days, the wife nearly cried when I gave them a spare blender we had accumulated. One that somehow hadn't made it to Goodwill, despite the fact it had been a in a box for donation and we have made several deliveries there.

I got my why--after I agreed to obey. Sure, their things can be replaced, but not the sentimentality of the gifts. As I go through my days I smile over the wedding gifts we received more than 12 years ago. I can still name the givers of many of those gifts. I can't replace the sentiment of that old quilt, but perhaps I can give them a new memory to smile over as they make their bed in their new home.

Sometimes we never know why we feel these promptings and sometimes we do. So when we get to know why, we can hold on to those for all those times we are left wondering.

Oh, and some day soon, I'll show you that quilt I've been working on!

Monday, January 30, 2012


Gabby: "I want fuzzy orange soda."

According to Nate, pancakes, which were cake-cakes, are now pan cake-cakes. He also pointed at the book we had for studying skeletons and declared, "Pirates!!" I guess that skull might resemble the Jolly Roger. Arg!

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Yesterday...my oldest little darling decided she couldn't do her math. An hour later it was done, but it was not an easy hour.

My darling middle child didn't finish breakfast. Or lunch. She didn't finish them at snack time either (I hold back her unfinished meals for later, to encourage her to eat what she is served). So last night for dinner she ate the corn from lunch, the last several mini wheats from breakfast, and her large dinner salad. Do you know why? She knew we were going to have tapioca pudding (to go along with one of her sister's history lessons). She knew she couldn't have it if she hadn't eaten her normal food, so she ate it all. All. And then she didn't even like the tapioca. (Me either--ick.)

Finally, I settled down with a nice steaming cup of coffee. The littlest darling climbed up in my lap. He was going to be sweet, but then he started rocking us...hard. Nice steaming coffee was sloshing all over my lap until Justin came to take the little guy off to safety and I was able to clean up.

Maybe today will be a better day. I have learned not to say, "It can't get worse," because of course it can, but a girl can dream, right?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Quilt Update

Just a quick update on the quilt.

336...I have sewn 336 pieces of yellow fabric to 336 pieces of green fabric. I have made 672 knots and somewhere in the neighborhood of 11,000 stitches (yeah, I didn't count all of those)!

At a pace of about 12 seams per hour...that's about 32 hours, including the cutting time.

All for this teeny tiny pile.

Next up? Ironing, cutting, and then sewing 336 pieces of pink fabric to 336 pieces of blue fabric!

Maybe that quilt on Etsy wasn't over priced at three grand. But honestly, I am enjoying keeping my hands busy and I can't wait to see the thing put together.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Running Out

As a kid, I remember running out of school before we ran out of book. Every year. I hated that we never got to the end of anything. I never studied modern American History. We never saw what was at the end of the science text.

As a home schooler, I vowed we would finish our books. We're not going to skip from the middle of Roman civilization until after it fell. Kate's a quick study and I'm a planner, so I just outlined a schedule that ends our social studies and science at the end of our scheduled year. Perfect.

Many of our books were set up in weeks anyway, so I just followed those. As we're getting closer to the end of the year I thought I would check our progress and see if any adaptations were needed.

I found that our spelling only had 30 units. To keep our tests on Friday, on our four day weeks, we just popped two practice sheets on one day. But that means we'll finish spelling several weeks early. I have a new spelling program that I picked up used, Spelling Power, that I think will lend itself just fine to starting after we review all of our years' spelling words. Problem solved.

We ran out of our McGuffey Reader before Christmas and we've worked with library books so far, though I think I may pull old McGuffey back out later this term.

Then there is writing. Again, our book will give out about two weeks before we reach the end of the term. Well, we've been practicing copy work from the first chapter of Luke this year on Fridays anyway, so we can continue with that those last few weeks of class.

We're currently hitting grammar topically (no text) and most of our weekly subjects (music, art, etiquette, logic, and P.E.) are easily covered with the books we have or library cards and weekly trips to gymnastics.

I have one gaping hole though. We will finish the first grade math text in early February, leaving about 3 months of school remaining. I suppose the thing to do is order the next grade up. She still needs to practice memorizing all those pesky math fact though, so I debate moving on. She knows most of them, but there are still several to get down.

I suppose it is hard to match pace with those books after all. Though I somehow like this running out better than the other way!

*** We are required by our state to have 180 days of at least four hours apiece, so completely dropping subjects as we reach the end of the books isn't going to work for that schedule, plus some things like math, I think she needs to keep in practice for anyway. ***

Friday, January 20, 2012

Planning Ahead

As the mother of daughters, I know that some day we may get to plan a couple of weddings. I was surprised though, when we went to buy some quilt fabric (I found a 40% off sale!) that Gabby demanded I purchase the material to make her a wedding dress that day. I told her we didn't know how tall she would be when she was grown, so it would have to wait. I really thought it would end there.

I was wrong. The girls danced around behind me choosing this fabric and that. They looked at thread colors, binding, and zippers. They chose quite the assortment of colors and textures. My very favorite was the jumbo orange zipper that they both agreed was the very best option. The dresses also have to have orange buttons to match. It should match the teal blue tulle with sparkly teal swirls that Gabby chose clashingly well.

As we were leaving the store, Kate announced that, "We can buy the least expensive fabric, even if it is kind of boyish, because it will be covered in other stuff so you won't see it anyway." Among many things she was eyeing was a roll of package ribbon at the check out.

I wanted to be sure to remember their ideas when some day they do come to me and are ready for wedding dresses, so I had them draw their designs. They drew a flower girl, bride, and bride's maid.

Kate is going for the multi-colored look.

Lest we ever forget, Kate put the orange zippers on the back of her paper.

Gabby is also planning to shave the heads of her bride's maid and flower girl. She might have difficulty finding attendants!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A Glutton for Punishment

There is a quilt pattern that I have loved for many, many years. Unfortunately, it is one of the most difficult quilt patterns to complete.

The Double Wedding Ring quilt for a full/queen sized bed has 2573 pieces (in 9 fabric patterns and 5 shapes)! I don't have one to take a picture of, but if you google the images there are some pretty ones out there. The one I'm working on will be subtle. So far I have a light green and a light yellow to work with. I will either stick with variations of those two colors or incorporate some other pastels in the rings. The background will be white. I plan the places where the rings meet to be a white print and a green solid, though that may change depending on how long it takes me to get to that part and what my tastes are then!

I asked for the rotary cutter templates for Christmas, so I have cut the first two sets of fabric (672 pieces).

This is 336 pieces (in stacks) of pretty green wedges. Also pictured are some of my lovely templates, which allowed me to cut that set of pieces in 60-90 minutes. Sure beats the scissors!

I decided this will probably be a multi-year project, so I've started with purchasing the fabrics as I need them or find them on sale, rather than one big purchase at the fabric store. I'm hand stitching, which takes a lot longer, but allows me to stitch while I'm with the littles (an important thing for me at their ages, rather than being up in my room with the sewing machine, which I can do for short little projects, but not something this time consuming).

I went to Etsy the other day and I searched for double wedding ring quilts. The ones that fit large beds and are hand stitched are running $600-$3500! I guess that lets me know the time commitment I'm getting into.

I have 12 seams stitched so far...and more seams than I would care to count left to go. I'll post again when I get on to a new interesting step or finish up something worth showing. Maybe I'll finish it before Nate goes off to college anyway!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Stop On By!

We had occasion to have a midweek visitor yesterday. My sister had need of some shopping in the big city, so she dropped by bearing books, which made her the favorite aunt.

The littles devoured their books, showed off their videography 'skills,' demonstrated their gymnastics tumbling, and then organized a dance contest. The dance contest was cut short though, when Little Miss Kate and Little Miss Gabby declared that they were the judges and the elder sisters were to be the contestants. Aunt declared that she, "Doesn't dance in public." Kate was quick to point out that, "This is a house, not public." Holly, despite laughing, decided to skip on the dancing just the same. Nate and I may or may not have done a tango.

We were grateful for the midweek visit and of course the books too!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

According to Nate...

... ceiling fans are fairies.

... diaper are biapers.

... smoke detectors are spiders and so is his fireman's hat [spider=fire?!]. (I wonder what spiders are.)

... and each and every person in the house must have a kiss before he goes to bed or before any one is allowed to leave the house.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Planned Ignoring

I took two classes in behavior modification in college. Two. Antecedent, Behavior, Consequence. See? :)

One of the strategies is Planned Ignoring. Sounds simple. You just ignore it. If you have ever done much work in behavior modification you will know, however, that typically any behavior you opt to modify will escalate when you start to work on it (since, hey this used to work and now it doesn't so I should just turn the volume up) AND ignoring is not easy.

Planned ignoring is kind of like time out, but you can do it anywhere and the kids is only isolated during the negative behavior in that you aren't pay attention to him or her then. And people may hate you. You can do it when a kiddo asks (and asks, and asks for something at the store). Answer once and ignore ever after, but they will get louder and more annoying and you can not give in and answer or you just taught the little munchkin, "If I ask a whole bunch of times and keep getting more annoying then I get my reward (even if it is a 'no,' since half the point was just the attention)." So if you go for planned ignoring be ready for loud. But then after a few (or a lot depending on how ingrained that behavior is) you will have many more quiet trips in your future.

May I present an example? Well it's my blog and I will if I want to.

Yesterday I went to the grocery. I've moved my trips to the afternoon because then we don't have to deal with 'The McDonald's Question' because we've already eaten lunch that way. Yesterday, however, I was still recovering from the plague really bad cold I had, so we went earlier in the day (less crowded and my munchkins tend to do better in the morning).

One of my three really pushed the limits the whole trip, but in an effort to move things along, I mostly let it go. Nothing had been horrid, just not the behavior I expect in a store. We did make a purchase at 'Make it Donald's.' (Thanks Nate for the new name, by the way!) Typically this behavior would have kept her off the burger list, but I was trying to keep things on an even keel. I never threatened to take it away, so I wasn't breaking the cardinal rule of discipline (Never make a threat you won't follow through on). When we got home, a certain child continued to be difficult. And refused to change her tune when I prompted it. So you know what, she didn't get her Make it Donald's.

And she was mad: scream the whole way through our lunch mad. I told her once that when she calmed down she was welcome to a normal peanut butter sandwich lunch and then...I ignored her as she screamed in the middle of the kitchen. I stepped around her to get ketchup. I chatted with the other two about their meals and their days. We finished our lunch. I tucked the two with burger filled tummies in bed. I made a peanut butter sandwich (around her) and left it on the table. The whole time she screamed. She got so tired she sat down. Then she decided that standing again would gain her more attention. She was wrong. I went upstairs. I ignored her. Eventually she went and ate lunch. I ignored that too.

When she was finished, I told her she could tuck herself in, since she was so late getting to rest. When she got mad about that, I told her if she screamed I would let her nap on the wood floor (so as not to disturb her nearby resting siblings) and then I walked away. She started to fuss, but soon noticed I wasn't there.

There are plenty of behaviors we can't ignore--safety and other people's sanity depend on us stepping in--but it is a nice (if loud) tool to have in your toolbox. Plus sometimes it even gets so absurd it is kind of comical, so you aren't even mad about the behavior anymore.

Monday, January 9, 2012

100th Day

We reached our 100th day of school on Friday.

This year I wasn't feeling well. I was starting to come down with the cold of the decade (it's been a tough one!), so we didn't have quite the huge celebration of the number 100 as we did last year. There were M&Ms though, so all is right in the world.

We started by pouring M&Ms in a bowl. Kate was to tell me to stop when she thought there were 100 in the bowl. She stopped me at 97. A very good estimate!

We counted groups of 10.

Then we counted to 100 by 10's and by 1's.

Then we made a distribution chart by color. We could then see that there are more blues than any other color in our sample and less oranges. There were equal numbers of green and yellow.

Then there is the most disappointing part of the day, having to divide the M&Ms into three bowls (33 1/3 each) so that the munchkins could eat them. Maybe I helped out by putting the odd one in a bowl though. Shh!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Happy New Year

I guess I sorta got busy! I haven't written in quite awhile. I hope you had a Merry Christmas and are enjoying the New Year. We started back to our normal schedule yesterday. The professor was to be at work, so the littles and I went back on our school schedule. So now I can get caught up on all the writing I missed out on...well maybe some of it anyway!

We've done baking, visiting, sewing, shopping, baking, caroling, wrapping, and oh, did I mention baking?

The kiddos got some cute new PJs this year. These are a set from my parents that they modeled for me the other night. You might also be able to tell that both of the girls have had their hair trimmed. The girls adore long dresses and nightgowns. Gabby's brushes the top of her feet. It reminds me of Cindy Lou Who, and Nate has his 'Mergcy 'jammas. Covered in emergency vehicles, in honor of Aunt Holly.

Also in honor of Aunt Holly...

When we were little girls, we had some neighbors who we played with regularly. We enjoyed a lot of kickball games in our front yards, trick or treating together, and spent hours upon hours with them. The middle child was between Holly and me in age and owned a certain pair of slippers. They were 'bear claws,' fuzzy brown with plastic claws. As small children often are, Holly was scared of the claws, and she would run home anytime they came out. Of course, they were never brought out just to scare her off (ahem). Sorry Holly.

Anyway, that's why when I saw these on clearance...I just couldn't pass them up, so now Nate can scare his Auntie away. Maybe that won't work anymore though.