Scaling Back

We are dropping grammar and spelling for now.

I’ve decided it’s too soon to really push those for Natasha, and I expect regular copy work to open those topics in a more complete and natural way than I’ve yet come up with on my own.

Math continues to be insanely easy for Natasha, but has just begun to be a bit of a challenge for Melody.  It’s interesting: I decided to use one book for both girls, thinking it would simplify my (teaching) life to have them at the same level, but even in the same book they are clearly not at the same level.

I really am teaching everything twice.

But it was really neat to watch Melody *get* something this evening.  That was delightful.  And Natasha’s enjoying her sense of mastery, and the feeling (different from summer) that this is *real* school now.

I’ve tried to tell her that all our reading is part of school, but she wants *math.*  “It’s exciting,” she said, with her I’m-being-so-honest-I’m-embarrassed laugh.

A Blessing of Provision

Natasha got her first glasses less than 6 month ago.

Back at that appointment the eye doctor said to watch her and bring her back in 6 months if we noticed her vision deteriorating.

I ranked at this idea for a number of reasons.  First, it just seemed like a way to get extra business, so there was an automatic conflict of interest.  Second I wasn’t sure I could notice “a deterioration of her vision.”

Well, I did.

She started squinting about a month ago, and then sitting on the chair in fron of the movie rather than on the couch.

I called and made a new appointment.

She needs new lenses.

But (and this was the part I didn’t know to expect) our insurance will cover the cost of the new lenses because the replacement/correction is happening less than 6-months later.

Family Quick-Takes (Vol. 2)

Another brain-dump thanks to Jenn’s lovely idea at Conversion Diary.

Enough on my mind I did two this week (another one at UntanglingTales)

~ ~ 1 ~ ~

Elisha broke 3 last month (I had a sprained knee the day of his annual check-up and missed it– still haven’t rescheduled), and he is decidedly no longer a toddler.  He is a little boy, becoming increasingly verbal, and increasingly understandable at that.

He’s stacking blocks right now, and he loves playing in the dirt (right now our trouble is getting him and his sisters to play in the garden and not in what was last year’s dirt-pile and this year’s dog yard.

~ ~ 2 ~ ~

I love being married to an engineer.  I love that he includes me in his world (that he imagines parts of our vastly different worlds to be related enough that inquires for and values my opinion.  And it’s really good for getting me outside myself when he calls in the middle of the day with, say, a question about embroidery hoops.

~ ~ 3 ~ ~

I’ve been playing piano again (in bits) and Natasha said this week she wanted to do a song together (me and her) for the church some day.

She sat next to me for the next half hour as we sang her choice and more, then asked for directions about playing one of the songs herself.  She’s grown since the last time, or gotten stronger, because she can play both the A and D cords now.  Not quickly, but deliberately.

~ ~ 4 ~ ~

How do you be friends with someone you have nothing in common with– other than wanting to be friends?  I keep digging for new things and it only highlights what opposites we are.

And I’m not talking in the “opposites attract” way that some people believe in.

We’re talkin’:

music vs. no music
My movies vs. “scary”
reading and writing (self) vs. “not really interested in that stuff”

She has a very sweet spirit and she’s been homeschooling *years* longer than I… I just have no idea how to build relationship without similarities.

Suggestions? Advice?

~ ~ 5 ~ ~

I pick what parks the kids and I visit based on whether they allow dogs.

I’m sure 10 years ago I would have thought this was weird, but now I feel it’s not really fair to leave the dog indoors while we go play outside– and kind of counter-productive too, since I’d just be needing to exercise her later or deal with wired-dog all evening.

~ ~ 6 ~ ~

Natasha has a tooth coming in behind her lower teeth.  She’s wiggling the one in front, and has hurt herself several times biting wrong, but nothing’s ready yet to come out.

~ ~ 7 ~ ~

Melody is so close to reading.

When we left Forget-me-Not bookstore on Monday each of the kids was reading their own books and Melody looked up and asked, “What’s an enemy?”

And that is one of the words in her new book (a Dinosaur adaptation).

I am *so* thankful for that bookstore.  I love having the chance to own so many neat books.

I try not to be scared or sad about how devastated I’d be to lose them in a fire or something.  So many were unique finds I can’t imagine replacing them all  (certainly not for the amount they were collected originally…).

NJ’s Cavity

I took Natasha to the dentist this morning to get a cavity filled. She did very well and was only a little sore afterward.
All the kids are brushing more regularly now, though Jay said Melody is not yet cleared to brush unsupervised– whatever that means 😉 .

Protective Boy

I wrote about Elisha’s first protective act here, but there have been three more in the last few months that were clearly deliberate, and I want to remember them too.

Back before Jay returned from Antarctica I would send Natasha out with Joule to hold the leash and make sure the dog did its business in the right place.  One of these times the door locked behind her, and she was stuck out back.

I was in the midst of a morning rush, focused on my work and didn’t hear her calling for help.  What I did notice was Elisha stumping first to the back door, then to the entry way for his boots, then to me to ask for help putting them on.  I helped him, only vaguely wondering what prompted this sudden interest in shoes.

We have a hard-and-fast rule that the children cannot enter the garage without something on their feet.

He next tromped to the back door and went into the garage.  I followed to give the “What do you think you’re doing” speech and finally heard Natasha’s frantic yells.  Elisha had already run across the garage and I followed him.  I still don’t remember who opened the door for her, but I was quick to tell Natasha it was Elisha who first heard and came to her rescue.


More recently the children were just finishing the dishwasher and Melody got her finger stuck in the door.

Now, Melody is (currently) my most reactive child, and that causes me to filter every sound she makes and sometimes to discount the significance of her distress.  On this particular day, all three children were standing by the door and has happened before, someone besides Melody initiated the closing of the door.

She has screamed about this before with her hand hanging on the closed door, so I hope anyone will understand when I admit I launched into my “this isn’t how we communicate” lecture.

Through wails that nearly obscured her meaning she finally communicated that her finger was stuck, and before I could cross the room Elisha had stepped forward and pulled the door back open for her.

This was something the girl could have done for herself if she had thought of it, but one of my current frustrations is that she will fixate on a problem to the exclusion of looking for a solution.  This is *very* frustrating to me.

My own M.O. is to “manage” any pain or issue by focusing on the solution or the search for one.  I hope this is a difference that we may work out sooner rather than later.


Then, just today (sparking my interest in writing all this down), the children were watching Finding Nemo and Natasha called to me to sit with her for “a scary part” (she’s not truly scared, anymore, but it has become something of a ritual) when I came to her she was leaning against Elisha (who would be half her size except he was sitting on the arm of the loveseat) with his arm around her shoulders.

“He told me, ‘Don’t be afraid, Natasha,’ ” she said, obviously delighted.  “I don’t need you now.”

What kind of nonsense…

Natasha received a delightful word-toy that allows kids to build their own sentences out of phrases (parts of speech color-coded, for the most part).

What I now need to figure out is how to teach the difference between sentances that are nonsense because of content, and sentances that have no sense because they don’t contain a noun or a verb.

The Adventure

Let’s see… I’m not sure If I can make this short or interesting, but there were enough details that I felt the need to write them down.

Last Monday Jay left early in the morning, and after he left I read an e-mail from my mother that she and my dad had driven to Anchorage because my uncle being treated for cancer had caught pneumonia.

It was -40° and there was a serious question of whether this would be the last good-bye.

The next day I had to get NJ to her 6-year-old well-child check-up early, and at the doctor’s office explained to the 6- and 4-year-old the concept of cancer and the possibility this beloved uncle could die soon.

Melody at once said, “I want to see him before he dies.”  And as soon as she said it I knew I felt the same way.

We left the next morning– Tuesday– as soon as we had ourselves collected and the dog dropped and the boarder’s.  The daylight driving was uneventful, but as we entered twilight the weather descended and I was driving with little and no road markers (because of the fresh snow), wind, and blowing snow.

It was yucky, but we made it to town and met everyone at the hospital for a nice visit before making our way to the house we were staying at.  Before we left Fairbanks I knew that the antibiotics and fluids Providence gave him had pulled my uncle back to a semblance of normal, but still felt we were to go.

The next day, Wednesday, the weather in Anchorage was nutsy: freezing rain, icy streets, wind blowing emptied garbage cans all over the residential roads.

Mom and Dad went out early to figure out what was going on with Uncle A’s release, and the children and I hung about in a structureless mush until Dad came back and brought us all with him back to the hospital for a last game of Memory before Uncle A went home.  Forecast that night was for ANC to reach 65 degrees on Thursday.

Our Hostess offered to let us stay another night: the roads were still awful, and though some of them were drying out we knew that driving north we’d reach some point when they froze again, and then God help us.

Dad left on an experimental drive to pick up some things and while he was gone I checked the weather report for Friday.  It looked worse than what we were already in.  I voiced the opinion that if we were going to leave today or tomorrow the odds looked better for today.  Dad agreed when he got back and we packed the cars, the kids, and headed out.

The younger two were with mom and dad, and Natasha is very good at being quiet when told, so I could focus my attention on seeing through the crazy, wet snow blowing down.

We were creeping along a corner when I felt my back wheels turning to catch up with the front.  I remember turning into the skid and registering enough correction to slid into the snowbank nose-first rather than sideways.  We were fully off the road, and the first thing I noticed was a state trooper pulling up behind us with his lights going.

I felt a little disoriented (though not from the slide– more from the mental effort of staying on the road up to this point), and Natasha had some loose stuff tumble onto her, but otherwise we were fine.  The trooper said I was doing everything right; it was just too slippery on the road.  He radioed for a wrecker, and it arrived relatively quickly, considering we were in the middle of nowhere…

The truck pulled my car out of the snowbank and that was all it needed.  Nothing was wrong with it, and I was quite content to let Dad drive it the rest of the way to Tapper Creek.  An hour before we got there we stopped at a gas station to call ahead and found they had two rooms available and one had a queen bed and two twin-sized beds.  Mom reserved it and said we were on our way.  We arrived 2 minutes before their scheduled closing-time of 10:00p.m.

With Natasha on the couch and Elisha in the porta-crib he’s used in ANC, everyone had a bed and slept well.

We left when it was light, with Dad still driving my car, and when the roads started drying out we traded back.

The rest of the trip was without incident, other than we passed a handful of other vehicles off the road.

Oh yes, that was the bit I left out.  Moving on again from where my car was released from the snowbank, we were down to about 15MPH.  Half and hour down the road we passed a truck on its side.  Our adventure could have been a lot messier than it was.

While we were waiting for the wrecker Natasha watched the Trooper’s lights and observed matter-of-factly, “God told that man to stop and help us.  Just like in Bible times!”  “That’s because he’s the same God as was in Bible times,” I answered.  “He doesn’t change!”  And she was so delighted it spilled over in giggles.

Jay Couldn’t Stop Laughing

Yesterday, despite the 40-below, Jay and I decided we needed to go grocery shopping.

It’s a conveluted story, but the end was that only Elisha came with me.  When we got back, Natasha asked why we’d taken so long.  I explained it’s because it’s been a long time since we went grocery shopping, and so had a lot to do.

“It hasn’t been a long time,” Natasha protested.  “You just got back!”

I really don’t know…

Ever since introducing the concept of homonymto my 3- and 4-year-olds last year, discovering new examples has been a source of delight for them.

Knowing a bit more now about the difference between homonym and homophone I’ve considered introducing the new word… but haven’t yet.

Natasha has been experimenting with the idea of heartsick (very sad) yesterday and today.  As we drove home Thursday night she interrupted her latest attempt to use heartsick in a sentence and said, “There’s the heart in your body, and the heart you draw…” I can feel the hope and excitement building.  “Is heart a homonym?”

And I’m sitting there, thinking of her new word all the other ways the word heart is used, and I truely don’t know the answer to that one.

Story Prompts (#1)

I have this game I bought a couple years ago to use for the storytelling class I was developing at the time.

Looking for something new to do with the girls (I’m experimenting with letting Melody skip naps) I pulled it out and tried on the fly to see if I could adapt it to their level.

The gist of it is to tell a story using the elements shown on your dealt cards to reach the ending written on your “happily ever after” card.  Complicated to explain, simple enough to do.  With a little practice.

Anyway, I only got so far as to say it’s about telling a story from a card and laying out three “place” cards as examples when Natasha said, “A forest!  I have a story for that one!”  And Melody picked up the Island and said, “I can tell a story from this one!”

So I put away the other cards and came to the computer to write down what they told me.

I couldn’t type nearly fast enough; certainly not enough to catch the inflection and pauses that (seriously!) added so much to the basic stories their words expressed.  But it was only our first time, so I hope we’ll both get better at this.

Natasha’s story:

Once upon a time there was a princess and one day her father who had a beard wanted her to go to the forest.

Now, the princess didn’t quite want to go, but her father insisted because he wanted her to go so she had to go.  But because it was a dangerous place ….he made a good solution they would both go to the forest.

Still the king would protect.

They all loved their educational ride through the forest and one day they soon died from a very bad forest fire from a dragon that burned the whole huge forest.

Melody’s story:

Once upon a time there was a king, an island, who wanted his queen to go to the dangerous land of the deep, deep, deep stream of futures.  And there’s trolls in the water.

So the king went himself and killed all the trolls and then he walked silently through the water until he came to his home again.

The end.

“That’s the short story,” she finished, in her normal voice.