Sunday, August 31, 2008

Very First Hairdo

This morning I not only did Roo's hair for the first time ever, but it was the first time I'd done pigtails in a two-year-old's hair. Roo, being Roo, was very patient about it.

The pigtails were a little bit crooked, but still very cute. And miraculously they stayed in all through church.

The Rabbit wants to know when she is going to get to have her hair done.

Probably in two years, Rabbit, if your hair grows like Roo's did.
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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Week Four

Our homeschool is still going well. We had a good week.

I think it's good that we do math on Mondays because Monday morning we're always really motivated to start our week out right and math is the most structured thing we do. Our work this week was on patterns. I can see my boys developing good thinking skills.

Tuesday we had a field trip to a science museum that has an exhibit about prairie life, including live prairie dogs and a real tornado. The kids loved it and I had to drag them away kicking and screaming when it was time to go home.

Wednesday we did some work on rhythm and beat. Bean is learning to read notes pretty well, but he has a hard time with rhythm, so I wanted to give him some extra practice. I made some cards with notes on them and had him make up rhythms that we could clap together (thanks for the idea, Julie!) After awhile we got plastic containers and spoons out of the kitchen and started a drum line. This was pretty popular with Roo.

Thursday we went to the library. I don't yet feel ready to get back into our structured reading lessons. I love our reading book, Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, but I don't want to push Bean too hard to do take on more than his brain is ready for. For many months now every time I think about getting back into our reading lessons I just don't feel good about it and when I have tried anyway I see that Bean still has a mental block and he gets all squirmy and it turns into a fight. The whole point in homeschooling him is to let him develop at his own pace, so I'm just trying to keep reinforcing things he's already learned and read aloud a lot to develop his imagination and vocabulary.

Friday for "Making Day" I wanted to reinforce what we did on Monday with patterns, so I had the boys string bead necklaces and I asked Bean to make different patterns with his string of beads. He enjoyed that. Roo and Fish really enjoy stringing beads too.

The more I get into homeschooling, the more things I think of that I want to do with the kids and I realize I don't even have enough hours in the day to teach them everything I want to. I get excited about all the different things we could do, but then I get exhausted trying to work with them and also take care of all my other responsibilities. I am trying to learn to pace myself. A lot of my challenge is mental-- adjusting my expectations and attitudes-- but I'm making progress.

Progress is good.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Something That Made Me Think

I read this blog post a couple of days ago and it really reverberated with things that have been on my mind lately. I don't really have time to elaborate on this, but I thought these were good things to ponder so I wanted to share.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Oh Where, Oh Where Can He Be?

One of the peculiar things about being married to a pilot is sometimes having absolutely no idea what state my husband is in, let alone what city he is flying to. Especially since he started flying Air Ambulance, he often does not even have the time to communicate with me where he is going and when he'll be home before he leaves. I'm used to it. He leaves suddenly, he comes home suddenly. All in all, though, he is home most of the time, and we love that.

Recently he showed me a website which gives me most of the information that he doesn't have time to tell me. As long as he has filed an IFR flight plan, will show me where he's going, when he left, and pretty near exactly where he is at any given moment. I can finally actually plan for approximately when he is going to come home.

This has been fun for me. I will take the kids to the library and when I come home, I'll see his car gone. So I'll pull up this website, type in his tail number, and see that he's halfway to Oklahoma City.

He has traveled far and wide for someone in such a small plane: from Denver to St. Louis, from Rochester to Galveston, and everywhere in between. He often lands at small airports in the middle of nowhere and picks up patients that need medical care in a large city hospital, so he sees not only the big cities but the small towns as well. He really gets around.

And it's so nice to know where he is!

Monday, August 25, 2008

You Bought WHAT, Honey?

Do you ever make your husband haul your purchases in from the car? Like when you go to the mall and buy 5 new outfits, complete with shoes and handbags, and then make him carry in all the cute little boutique bags for you? Or like when you buy a five-gallon pail of molasses?

I really like molasses and I hate buying it in the expensive and small bottles at the grocery store. I thought there had to be a way to get it cheaper if I bought it in bulk. I asked at Sam's Club and they looked at me like I had three heads. "Molasses? No, we don't carry that, Ma'am." Am I weird to like molasses? It's a great source of iron and I've been slightly anemic since the end of my last pregnancy.

Amazon Grocery sells molasses, so I can't be that weird.

Glenda has a friend that owns a health food store and can order stuff from food wholesalers. She asked him and it turned out his wholesaler sells bulk molasses-- in five gallon pails! Of course this was a better deal than even Amazon, but FIVE gallons?

What the heck! Why not buy five gallons of molasses? The stuff keeps forever.

So I did.

But now I could really use your help. I love molasses cookies. I love gingerbread. I love love LOVE Glenda's recipe for North Dakota Farm Bread which has molasses in it (more on this later). But I've got FIVE GALLONS, man. I need some more ideas! What do YOU like to make with molasses? Post me a comment, with or without a recipe. We're going to have a big molasses baking spree here at the Birrd's nest.
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Sunday, August 24, 2008


My friend Julie gave my kids each a Twinkie the other day and I realized that it was the first time any of them had ever eaten a Twinkie.

Watching Roo with her Twinkie was hilarious. At first she thought it was kind of strange and just nibbled at it:

After a couple of bites she had to study it to figure out what the heck was going on:

Then she nibbled it like a chipmunk:

In the end she decided that Twinkies were delightful things:

Orange Yogurt Cake

The other day I bought 2 lbs of fresh blueberries at Sam's Club. My family dove in and started eating them like popcorn.

Then Farmgirl Susan posted a recipe on her blog for Orange Yogurt Cake and said it was the perfect accompaniment for fresh blueberries. Well, I had fresh blueberries, and I also had yogurt and oranges. And butter. And flour. And sugar. Etc.

The batter was the most delicious-smelling, creamy-looking stuff I've ever had in my KitchenAid bowl.

The cake was beautiful.

But by the time I finished it, all the blueberries were mysteriously gone. So we ate it plain. It was marvelous. I will definitely be making it again. I would like to try it with blueberries.

(Click here for the recipe.)

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

P. S.

While we were on our nature field trip, we saw this totally awesome frog:

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Homeschool Week Three

Our third week of the school year wasn't quite as smooth as the first two weeks but I think it was still successful.

Monday went fine. We were on schedule and we did our math work. I've been noticing that Bean's attention span for school is usually about 40 mintes, but Fish will play with those math rods for hours if I'd let him. He begs me to get them down every day but I want them to have the special mystique of only being for Monday Math Days so he only gets to play with them on Monday mornings. I bet he's one of a tiny percentage of the US population that actually looks forward to Mondays.

Tuesday we had a field trip planned, before which I intended to read some more to Bean out of the non-fiction books we checked out on the prairie, but as he had an early morning dentist appointment to have sealants put on his 6-year molars the reading didn't happen. However, the field trip went swimmingly and I think it was very educational. We went to a local nature park that had great walking trails.

We went with my friend Julie and her two younger girls. Our kids all had a great time, especially here at the Turtle Pond where we made them pose for a picture.

Okay, so the posing wasn't their favorite, but they loved the turtle pond.

Tuesday evening I ended up over at Julie's (I'm there a lot!) watching the Olympics until midnight. That totally threw off Wednesday and made me realize just how much it helps my life to get up at 7 am. When I sleep in at all I find myself racing the rest of the day to catch up. No more Olympics until midnight, Birrd! We did eventually get some piano time in Wednesday afternoon, but it wasn't the best quality.

Thursday I needed to can applesauce with Naomi. Canning is a very involved all-day process but she wasn't coming over until 10 so I still managed to do reading with Bean for a few minutes after I got my kitchen all prepped for the canning. Bean read nearly all of a short story from a beginning reading book. I can tell he's still really struggling with reading but he also really wants to learn and he is finally finally FINALLY recognizing some sight words without having to sound them out. It is so rewarding to be right there with him seeing him learn. That's one of the things I love most about homeschool.

Friday we had to do more applesauce so we didn't get around to our craft project until afternoon. With all these apples kicking around the house I had the boys start dried apple faces. We peeled some apples and cut faces into them, adding cloves for eyes and rice for teeth. Now they have to dry for two weeks until they turn into Apple Monsters. As you can imagine the boys are extremely excited.

This coming week I am anxious to get back on my schedule. As I don't have any big projects on the horizon and since the Olympics are almost over I don't think this will be a problem. It just wasn't nearly as much fun trying to do school when our days were all out of whack and I was constantly wondering when I was going to fit it in.

The boys are still excited about school and eager to learn. So even though I'm still trying to figure all this out I'm definitely doing something right.
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Squeezo Goodness

Squeezos really are wonderful. Look at that beautiful applesauce coming out of my friend Naomi's Squeezo:

Naomi and her Squeezo seem to keep popping up on my blog. I'd better post a picture of the two of them together. Here is the amazing Naomi and her astounding Squeezo:

Squeezo Naomi and I canned 20 quarts of applesauce yesterday. It would have been 21 except one exploded in the canner. Canning is very exciting that way.

Naomi left the Squeezo at my house and so the Badger and I canned another 20 quarts today. The Badger is a very proficient Squeezo operator. The boys love to help him turn the crank.

Squeezos are great fun. I've really got to get me one.
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Friday, August 22, 2008

Fish in a Pool

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Perfect Children

They were, for five minutes this morning, absolutely perfect. Sitting and playing nicely together and keeping all the blocks in one area. It was a marvelous five minutes.

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Hangin' with Dad

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Find a Happy Place

I really enjoyed watching the women's gymnastics in the Olympics. The older and feebler I get, the more utterly incredible it seems to me that people can bend and flip and fly like that. What kills me is all the competitors who are totally amazing who don't even get a medal because they wobbled on the beam or didn't land their dismount. The pressure they are under must be immense and surely causes many a brilliant gymnast to fumble.

Many times, the camera zoomed in on Nastia or Yilin or whoever as they were preparing to perform a routine. Their eyes were closed and I had to wonder what they were thinking about.
All those international news cameras in your face and you're about to have your one shot at what you've planned and dreamed and worked for your whole life-- what's going through your head? Are they going through their routines mentally or thinking about all the events that led to them being there or chanting "Gold! Gold! Gold!" to themselves?

If it were me, I think I would just be trying to relax.

I wonder if some of the great relaxation techniques I learned for childbirth would be helpful for athletes. I bet they would.

There's one relaxation technique I learned before I had Bean that I still use all the time. It's designed to move you from a left-brain mode to a right-brain mode. I need this every night when I lay down to go to sleep and my brain is chattering away like this:

Are there enough leftover beans for us to have burritos for dinner tomorrow night? I need to ask Fish why he put his soccer cleats under his dad's pillow. Did I remember to pay the water bill? I need to take that red crayon out of my jeans pocket before I put them in the wash. Are frozen strawberries cheaper at Aldi or Sam's Club? Let's see... at Aldi a two pound bag is $2.99 so that's a dollar fifty a pound but I can't remember how many pounds those big Sam's Club bags weigh....

And that's just a normal day's mental dialogue. It's noisier and a lot harder to turn off if I have anything big and unusual going on in my life, such as travel or some large creative project.

So I do this:

Imagine yourself in a room. This is your left brain room. Then imagine yourself leaving that room and traveling down a hallway to another room, symbolic of traveling across your brain to the right side. Each time you do this exercise imagine the rooms and the hallway looking the same way. It can be any way you want, but it needs to be the same way every time.

When I imagine the room I start in, it is cluttered with everything that's going on in my life. There are baskets of laundry, piles of toys, and stacks of bills. I picture myself setting all these things down and walking out the door. That turns off my mental chatter pretty well most of the time. Then I go down the hallway, which is beautiful, to my other room. This room is my personal haven. There is an overstuffed chair there, as well as a fireplace and a bookshelf. I look out the windows at a really beautiful view and each time I do this exercise I change the season, weather, and time of day based on my mood. I sit down with a cup of something and a snuggly blanket and I am relaxed.

In my current reality, I almost never get to go away to a quiet, beautiful place by myself and just comfortably chill for awhile. But that's okay because I go there every night in my head. Well, some nights anyway. I've gotten to the point where this mental exercise works so well that I am usually asleep before I reach the other end of the hallway.

If I'm ever in the Olympics, I will run through this exercise right before my event when all the cameras are on me and my stomach is in knots as I wonder if I will be able to win the Gold in Olympic Laundry Folding for the United States of America.

I'll let you know if it works.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Durned Critters

So, Glenda calls me the other day and says "You're not going to believe this."


"I'm sitting here at my back window watching the squirrels climb up our corn stalks, take off the ears of corn, peel them, and eat them."

I did not know squirrels could do that. I have grown corn in squirrel-populated areas before and I have never seen that happen.

But it happened. They ate all our corn.

We had five or six lovely rows of corn, and we hardly got any to eat.

We've also had a big problem with rabbits. They ate our beans. They ate our sunflowers. They ate my sweet potato leaves. The sweet potato leaves are trying to come back, but I don't think they stand much of a chance.

And all those beautiful tomatoes? Well, we're getting some, but the critters are nabbing the ripe ones, taking a few bites, then leaving the rest on the ground for the bugs. It's painful to see a beautiful garden-ripe tomato in this state:

Next year I will begin experimenting with methods of deterring small critters. I can't let this happen again!

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The Harvest

We're getting some good stuff out of our garden, despite the critter problems. The potato bed gave us a nice yield.

Bean is pleased with how his little garden looks, with corn and cucumbers and tomatoes:

And the cucumber vines are still going strong. Lots of these cute little baby cucumbers growing. Maybe I'll get to do another batch of pickles.

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Sister Squeeze

"Hello, Roo, I'm your favorite squeeze toy."

"Roo makes a nice chair, Mom!"

"And she doesn't even mind when I pull her hair."

(Don't worry, the Badger was spotting Rabbit while I took these pictures.)

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Fish's Cowboys

Fish likes to draw cowboys. They always look like this, with square heads and closed eyes and smiles. I don't know why. This one appears to be on a stage, along with a girl who seems sad. Anyone want to psychoanalyze Fish based on this picture?

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Future Rug Merchant

My cousin Michelle took these pictures of my little Rabbit at her house the other day. Rabbit loves to be down on the floor. There's just something fascinating about flooring, you know?

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