Saturday, August 30, 2014

Weekend Links - August 30, 2014

And just like that, August is over. We managed to fill it with new experiences (and some old favorites) and some good memories. Not to mention four full weeks of school already completed.

Today is the first Saturday where I don't remember having an outside obligation. So, what will we get up to? I hear Playmobil City building upstairs, so I think I know what the girls have chosen for their Saturday fun.

To the links:

Spiritual / Inner Life
Marriage / Parenting
Homeschooling / Education
In the News
Made Me Laugh
What caught your eye this week?

Linking up with:

P.S.: Don't forget about the Simplified Organization course. The coupon code backtoschool (good for 30% off) will only be good for a few more days - it expires September 2.
Get organized. Stay organized.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Last Days of Summer, First Days of School: August Review

Oh, August, where did you go? We didn't have one unclaimed weekend in August, and that is crazy for this family of home bodies.

For a peek at what we got up to in August, read on:

Thursday, August 28, 2014

A Typical Homeschool Day?

We've met the students (5), we've shared our curriculum and general style (relaxed classical), we've shown where we homeschool (all over the house) and now it's time to describe a typical day.

Except, typical isn't real.
Typical is how things would go if every day was the same. "Normal" is an even harder mark to hit. Is there such a thing as a normal day?

Not really, not for us. (I mean, we just might go ride a sphynx for fun. You never know with us.)

But this is a rough sketch of a a how a day might go, if none of us had any other obligations
  • Up between 7 and 8. We're not early risers. Unless Philip is subbing, we usually don't have a reason to be up before 7. This is wonderful thing about our homeschooling flexibility. If he gets up early, I might...or I might not. (See? Nothing typical.)
  • The kids who are up earliest can fix their breakfast, if they're hungry. Or they could put on a DVD. They usually go for the DVD option. I have my quiet time (Bible reading, reading, waking up...) while they are occupied.
  • Some of us eat breakfast together, but not everyone. And hot breakfast? Almost never happens. (Unless you count Oatmeal or Cream of Wheat.) Big breakfasts are served for supper around here, never in the A.M. 
  • I unload the dishwasher & start a load of laundry while we're doing breakfast.
  • "School" starts after breakfast. That could be 8:30. It could be 9:00. It could even be 9:30, depending on what else we're getting into. If it's a co-op day (Mondays), we'll have to be there by 9:15, so we won't do any work at home in the morning. If it's a day my niece is with us (Thursday & Friday), we'll probably start on the earlier side.
  • We do memory work together: Scripture passage, section from Shakespeare, other poems. 
  • Big girls start on independent work while I do things like calendar time, phonics, and math games with the younger two girls. The iBoy usually plays during this, but sometimes he's back in bed for a morning nap.
  • Once things are done with the younger girls, I do Grammar and writing with Tigger. Miss Lili gets to play now, but Tigger & Sweet Pea usually have narration, grammar, or other things of that sort to do with me.
  • History and Science are divided up. Three days are History days and two days are Science days, for Tigger & Sweet Pea (of course reading & special projects could be any day of the week). Polly is working mostly independently and she does Science 5 days a week. Miss Lili tags along on Science when she wants to. (The last two weeks we were studying leaves and she was right there with us.) We might do this right after memory work, or it might get pushed until right before lunch. So far (4 weeks of school almost done), it hasn't ever been skipped. I'm just not uptight about when in the morning it happens.
  • Latin - primarily for the oldest two, but the younger two have been known to hang around, usually happens before lunch. Sometimes we save it until after lunch, when the youngest two will be in bed so we'll have fewer interruptions.
  • Lunch is around noon.
  • We do a quick pick-up of whatever we got out in the morning. (I say this is typical, but it doesn't always happen. Life is better when it does.) Laundry gets switched. We start planning supper, if we didn't already do that.
  • Naptime is around 12:30 or 1:00. This is for everyone: the older kids are allowed to read or work independently on schoolwork, but the younger ones have to be in bed. They can listen to a book on CD, or look at books, but they have to be in bed with no toys. (This is particularly important on the days my niece is with us. And then once a week my nephew is here too, after his morning kindergarten. He doesn't sleep but he does rest quietly and listen to a CD with the girls.)
  • After nap (1 hour, unless someone falls asleep, in which case: DO NOT DISTURB.), there might be more school, but usually it's done and the kids can play. I try to encourage them to go outside at this point, but if it's too hot or raining, or there are too many bugs, or someone has a hangnail or something (seriously. The reasons not to go outside can become rather ridiculous at times), they can play inside. Emphasis on play: no screens. (Although Miss Lili pushes this rule nearly every day. That's typical, too.)
Some days we go to the grandparents. Sometimes there are errands to run. With five children, almost every week someone has a doctor or dentist appointment. (OK, that might be a slight exaggeration, but not much. In August alone we had two dental appointments and one check-up.)
My primary goal in our homeschool day is to get as much done as possible before lunch, in the limited time between 9 and 12. Those three hours are golden. As long as we keep moving in those hours, we'll feel accomplished by the end of the day.
Supper is usually around 5:30 or 6:00. It can be later or earlier depending on what Philip's schedule looks like. We do our family devotion (a short reading) and our "Questions" (what my kids call our Baptist catechism) most evenings. Honestly, some days we don't even do those. (Wednesdays are particularly difficult during the school year since we need to leave our house early to get our church's kids program set up.)

After supper is clean up the dining room and then free time, or finish up what ever school work you procrastinated on time, or watch a family movie, or - and this is probably the most typical in our house - game time. Philip almost always has a game to play with the older kids. One of the kids will take a turn playing Minecraft or some other computer game. I might read or work on a project or even play the game with the others (although I'm not sure I'd call that typical).
Bedtime starts around 8 or 8:30. This includes reading aloud. (Usually Philip reads a picture book - or 3 - to the youngest and I read a chapter to the oldest) The older girls are allowed to read for another thirty minutes or an hour.

Philip and I do a coin toss for the computer. (OK, not really. I was just checking to see if you were still reading.) We work on projects (games, blog, other writing) for a bit and then many evenings we'll watch something on DVD or off of the computer before heading upstairs to - you'll never guess - read some more. Many evenings I go up to read while Philip works a little more.

So, typical? Maybe not. But the days do seem to have a rhythm that works for us.

Do you follow a strict schedule or do your days have an informal rhythm? Do you have a typical day?
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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Words on Wednesday - Perseverance and Hard Work

Quote taken from:Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking
by David Bayles & Ted Orland.

Another favorite quote from this book:
(These quotes were chosen from my commonplace book, not from my current reading.)

What I'm reading now:

Monday, August 25, 2014

Candid Answers: How Long Does it Take to Homeschool?

One question most people ask when they find out we homeschool is, "How long does that take?"

There are two answers for that:

1. Not long.

2. All the time.

Yes, I know. Those contradict. But they're both true and here are some reasons why:

1. Not long:
  • In my philosophy of education, lessons should be short. I do not consider myself a "Charlotte Mason" homeschooler, but that was also one of her theories and I'm happy she agrees with me. (I kid, I kid.)
  • We have almost zero lecture time. We have reading aloud, some worksheets, and lots of other things in a day, but very few lectures.
  • I believe in teaching until a child masters a subject, but I don't believe in overdoing daily lessons. No subject can be truly learned or deeply loved in one day.
  • We're not afraid of "drill". Repetition of math facts, key dates, beloved poems...these are all good things. We go over them and then move on. Drill does not have to mean "kill". Keep it short and sweet and the kids may not even realize that's what happened.
  • Know your child(ren) well enough to challenge them, but not exasperate. Do not overwhelm a young reader with ten books that need to be read by the end of the week. Do not assign so many pages of Math your child despairs of finishing.
  • Cut worksheets, skip ahead, repeat an old lesson - homeschooling works for the homeschool family, not the other way around. I saw a homeschool mom post recently that she loves Saxon Math because they do the first side together and then the child does the other side later, so she knows what the child understands. I'm glad that works for them, but we have never - not ever - in 8 years of "formal" homeschooling done that. (Please don't report me to the Saxon publishers.) Curriculum is made for the homeschooler, not the homeschooler for the curriculum. YOU ARE THE BOSS OF YOU (and your homeschool).
  • No need for a strict schedule (unless you like one and find it useful). No need to call daily necessities of life "interruptions". It's just life.
  • There's no time wasted in lining up, walking in a single-file row to the next class, getting things out of your locker before the next class (OK, yes, I admit, we love our lockers. But the time it takes to get going on the next subject is nil.)
  • The kids don't ask permission to go to the bathroom. No announcements from the office interrupt us, and there are very few fire drills or assemblies. (I won't say there aren't any. After all, my kids need to know how to escape our house in case of fire, too.)
  • Travel time: infinitesimal. Walk to another part of the house. Go outside from inside, or inside from outside. No busses. No car-pool. No pick-up, no drop-off, no finding rain gear or snow gear just to get to school.
  • No hours of homework, once home from school. (My frank opinion: if you're spending two or more hours on homework a night per child, you are homeschooling.)
2. All the time:
  • Learning happens everywhere, all day long, no matter what's on the schedule.
  • Reading aloud is never finished. There's always something else to read. Board books to babies, picture books to preschoolers, stories to a school age child, deeper reading with an older child. A young reader can feel proud of her effort to read to her younger sister. The younger sister might narrate a board book (she'll call it "reading") to her baby brother.
  • There's always a craft project, science experiment, art masterpiece, Lego world, or board game starting, in progress, or being finished. The house is almost never completely clean, with everything stowed away. 
  • Depending on the day's events, we might be finishing a worksheet at 7 PM. That doesn't mean we were doing worksheets from 7 AM to 7 PM, that's just when that when happened to be finished. We might save a favorite read-aloud until bedtime. We might do an involved Science experiment during the baby's naptime. A field trip might (and, in fact, often does) occur on a Saturday.
  • One industrious child might start on a few assignments before anyone else is up. I'm not saying it happens every day, but it does happen. 
  • A child finished early, might be assigned to help another child with something. This is not a punishment for finishing, this is just one family member helping another. Older children can listen to narrations from the younger, they can help review math facts (sneaky - the older child is reviewing at the same time), they could put on an educational DVD (yes - it could happen).
  • You might listen to a necessary book on CD while driving around town. Or you might conjugate some Latin or see who can remember the most poems or Bible verses. (Yes, we've done this.)
  • All family vacations have some component that counts as "educational" or a field trip. Even a trip to see family.
Learning is integrated with life - the two are inseparable and we wouldn't have it any other way. 

Check back later this week for a post about "Our Typical Homeschool Day" (spoiler alert: there's really no such thing as a typical day.)
(P.S: If you're looking to get your schedule under control, or your house in shape, or your life just generally back on track don't miss this:
Get organized. Stay organized.
This course is 30% off until September 2nd using the code backtoschool)

If you have a question you'd like me to attempt to answer, you can email me at candiddiversions @ yahoo . com - just remove spaces.
This post may contain affiliate links. See Disclosure page for more about that.
Linking up with:
Living and Learning at Home

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Weekend Links - August 23, 2014

We've had a full week here and several more things to do today, so let's get on to the links:

Spiritual / Inner Life
Marriage / Parenting
Homeschooling / Education
In the News
Just for Fun
What caught your eye this week?

Linking up with:

Don't forget the offer on this new course, good until September 2 (see this post: Learning to Love What Must Be Done, for more about that)
Get organized. Stay organized.
This post contains affiliate links. See Disclosure page for more about this. Opinions are my own.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Learning to Love What Must Be Done: A New Resource for Real People Living Real Lives

Does your life feel out of control sometimes (or even - sigh - all the time)?

Have you bought so many books on organizing, using your time wisely, & managing your home that you could fill a bookcase? (A bookcase that you probably bought at IKEA in the hope that it would bring order?)

Do you declutter one area of your house, just to see some other spot fill with things you don't want?

Have you ever felt like you need to clone yourself just to get half your to-do list done?

Does it just seem like too much?

My friend Mystie knows where you're coming from. And she's designed an amazing resource to help anyone who is seriously ready to stop reading about "Getting Organized", stop pinning all those really cool "organizing tips", and actually, you know, do it.

This is for all of you who are ready to get on with it already:
Learn to love what must be done

Here's a little taste of what you'll learn:
  • Change the way you think about your responsibilities.
  • Improve your mood.
  • Learn to use tools like calendars and an inbox to help you get more done and gain peace of mind.
  • Become happier and more fulfilled as a homemaker.
  • Devise systems that will help you stress less and accomplish more.
  • Keep your home reasonably clean while getting to everything on your (shorter) task list.
The course includes video tutorials, audio lessons, customizable templates, planning options whether you prefer paper and pen or digital, clear instructions, frequent live group chats with Mystie, and more.

There are six modules and loads of extras. Don't let it overwhelm you: you can work through at your own pace and there will be lots of encouragement from Mystie and the community she's putting together. Research suggests that people exercise more when they have a friend to work out with them. This is the same idea: we'll all be there to encourage each other, to build each other up, and to offer suggestions of what has really worked for us along the way.

Just writing this post is making me more excited about all the possibilities. Yes, I am an affiliate for this course (which means if you buy after clicking through with my link, I'll get a portion of your fee. It won't add anything to the price you pay), but I'm also signed up to take it right along with you. We're in a new (to us) fixer-upper house, we've started a new homeschool year, and we've added a few new obligations to our to-do list. This is the perfect time for me to renew my love of what must be done, and then do it.

This isn't about Martha Stewart type "all your flower beds should be this size" or "fold and store your Christmas linens in alphabetical order by color" rules. This is about real life, right where we live, with real challenges, and real schedules, and real women (and maybe some men!) who are busy during the day and tired at night and wondering if they've done enough (and seriously, will the laundry be caught up?).

So, what's the cost? $99.

I know. It sounds like a lot. And honestly, it might be too much for some of you. This might not be the right time.

But for those of you who are thinking about all those organizing books that didn't deliver, all those Pinterest pins that haven't fixed the root problems, all that money spent at IKEA that didn't fix everything, and all those good intentions that just didn't quite work out...well, this might just be the right time for you.

And if it is, here's the good news: The course is discounted 30% from now until September 2nd using the discount code: backtoschool when you checkout. So that means $69 (forgive me for stating the obvious if you already did the math in your head) and then you can get started claiming back your life.

I've never promoted anything quite like this. I'm new at this whole "affiliate" thing. And honestly, my frugal self hates asking people to spend money. But I really do believe in this and I think it's a great value. I believe in Mystie, a real-life, married, homeschool mom working from home (including all the work she's done on this). I believe in the course she's designed. And I believe the community she's building of like-minded real-life homemakers could be the best thing of all about it.

And whether you feel like your life is a complete disaster, or you just need some help tweaking your schedule (or your attitude), I think there's something here just for you.

Thanks for considering this fantastic course. Ready? As the Home Depot commercial says, "Let's do this."
Get organized. Stay organized.
Linking up with:
Love Bakes Good Cakes

Thursday, August 21, 2014

"Chapter 3 is Better": Lessons Learned from Our 3 Year Old

Last Sunday night our pastor was away so we were listening to a different preacher. Miss Lili was sitting next to me and offered a few comments along the way.

One of the first, and the one that made me laugh went like this:

Preacher: Jesus is eternal because He is God and God is eternal.

But he was talking kind of fast and Lili didn't hear him clearly because she leaned over to me and whispered fiercely, "Jesus is NOT a turtle!"

Guess those Baptist catechism questions are starting to pay off: at the very least she knows that Jesus is not a turtle.

The second thing she said during the sermon was when the preacher mentioned something like, "Which you can see in Chapter 4."

My daughter leaned over to me and - completely seriously - said, "Chapter 3 is better."

I laughed, of course, because what did this not-quite-4-year-old know about the book of the Bible the preacher was talking about and what those chapters contained?


Yet she was perfectly willing to state her opinion that one chapter was better than another. It was a funny moment and it made me smile, but then it made me think.

How often do we adults think something like this? How willing are we to state an opinion - possibly educated, possibly as uninformed as my 3 year old's - as an absolute fact?

I don't really watch any TV news any more (I get most of my news online these days) and one of the reasons was it felt like every news announcer, no matter which station, was saying the equivalent of "Chapter 3 is better."

Opinion, when you know it's opinion, is one thing. But when it's being stated as fact, that can be dangerous. What if the person stating their opinion as fact is as clueless as my three year old?

Miss Lili will grow up. She won't remember this sermon or the funny thing she said that Sunday night. I hope she'll learn to keep her opinions in their proper place, since what is funny in a preschooler is less so in an adult. (Please understand, I am definitely not saying all opinions are bad. I have quite a few myself. It's just that they need to be in subjection to facts and evidence, and, as far as spiritual matters are concerned, in submission to the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the Bible.)

And I hope I keep listening to the lessons my children are teaching.

Linking up with:

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Mom's Education Matters Too: What I'm Excited to Learn in 2014-15

OK, so you've met my "students" and our class pet: Meet the Students.
You've seen some of the places & spaces where we "do" school: Living and Learning Together.
And you've looked over our list of curriculum and textbooks for the kids: Curriculum 2014-15. (Little homeschool mom secret: I want to learn a lot of the things I've chosen for my kids. Their books are so cool. And who knows? Maybe Algebra is better the second time around. I've heard rumors to that effect.)

But it probably won't surprise you to know there are a few things I'd like to learn this year, too. Here they are in no particular order:

1. How to make blogging more than just a hobby.

Steps I've taken in this area so far: joined a Google Plus community for blog improvement and encouragement; added a few more affiliates (you can find these in my right sidebar) and started researching others; printed off some blog planners and lists; started a Pinterest board on this subject; WRITE EVERYDAY. Well, I already did write every day. But now I'm trying to write something blog related every day, even if it's just a rough draft or a list of ideas.

2. What is needed to do necessary schoolwork every day, add some babysitting, keep the house in relatively good order, keep up with laundry, meals, etc. and still have time left for my own goals. 

Steps I've taken in this area so far: more lists. Lists for the older girls. Lists for myself. Discipline to do at least one load of laundry every day, run the dishwasher every day, and so. Good news: it's going well so far. And my goals {blogging, fiction writing, etc.} are on my list too.

3. What it's like to meet with other homeschool families on a regular basis.

Steps I've taken so far: joined a homeschool co-op. Our first co-op day isn't until September, but we're signed-up, paid up, and excited. (OK, certain of us are more excited than others...) The classes I signed the kids up for are all enrichment (phys ed, art, a hands-on science lab) instead of things we absolutely have to have.

One reason for that is I already had our curriculum picked out and purchased before I knew we were going to do co-op. I didn't want to buy any more curriculum or overburden my kids with too many challenging classes. I want co-op days to be days they're excited about (also, co-op is on a Monday. No one needs too much challenge on a Monday morning, right? Least of all me.)

4. What's the best way for us to make a meal plan every week.

This is kind of related to #2. I'm incredibly blessed that my husband loves to cook. I can cook, but I don't love it the way he does. What that means is we both cook meals throughout the week, but we need to have better communication about who is cooking what, when, and which ingredients they'll be using. Because I do not like going to the pantry only to find one of my necessary ingredients was used up last Monday. (Side goal: gently reminding other family members to list depleted ingredients on the grocery list. Also related: convincing children not to put empty packages BACK IN THE PANTRY.)

Steps taken so far: yes, another list. And talking about what we both want to fix, based on the sale papers BEFORE I go to the store. (Because my husband likes to cook but he does not do the grocery shopping.)

5. What I want to learn next, in whatever books grab my attention. (I'm a "Knowledge Collector", remember?)

For several weeks this summer I was mostly reading about the First World War. That made for fascinating reading but it also burned me out a little bit. I still had a stack of reading, including some books that had been in my stack all summer, but I just wasn't motivated to read them any longer. So yesterday I returned all but a couple of books in my stack.

Which means I'm looking for more books that demand to be read. I'm particularly looking for non-fiction that is NOT war related.
Because, even though I started very young (see above picture) there are still so many things I want to learn.

So, do you have any suggestions for my "must read" stack? And what are you hoping to learn this year?
Linking up with:

Monday, August 18, 2014

"Not" Back to School 2014: Meet The Students

We call our method of homeschooling, "Relaxed Classical". (See our curriculum here: Curriculum 2014-15) Now it's time to meet our "students":
This is "Polly".
  • Age: will be 13 in December
  • Grade level: mostly 8th grade 
  • Favorite Subject: History
  • Least Favorite Subject: Math
  • Mad Skills in: Reading
  • Looking forward to: Science studies and experiments
  • Strengths: strong independent learner, self-starter, good memory, management capability
  • Weaknesses: perfectionism, procrastination, still working on improving handwriting (has greatly improved since last year but wants to keep at it), bossiness
  • You can find her: reading a book, volunteering at the library, programming on a laptop, building elaborate Lego or Playmobil worlds, inventing board games
This is "Tigger"
  • Age: will be 10 in September
  • Grade level: mostly 5th grade
  • Favorite Subject: Science
  • Least Favorite Subject: Math
  • Mad skills in: Handwriting
  • Looking forward to: studying more Botany
  • Strengths: good memory, creative, imaginative writing, entertaining the little folks, keeping herself busy
  • Weaknesses: easily distracted, hates change, can't be hurried, stirs up her younger siblings, avoids chores
  • You can find her: writing a poem, reading aloud to her siblings, playing games with Sweet Pea, reading a book, inventing elaborate play scenarios
This is "Sweet Pea"
  • Age: 7
  • Grade level: Mostly 2nd 
  • Favorite Subject: Science
  • Least Favorite Subject: Math
  • Mad Skills in: Art
  • Looking forward to: starting Taekwondo
  • Strengths: creativity, peacemaking, generally cheerful, unique perspective on just about everything, 
  • Weaknesses: untidy, forgetful, constant movement, needs a sister or two to play
  • You can find her: drawing, painting, coloring, tracing, playing a game with Tigger, playing toys with Miss Lili, building elaborate Minecraft houses, playing outside
This is "Miss Lili"
  • Age: will be 4 in September
  • Grade level: preschool
  • Favorite Subject: coloring
  • Least Favorite Subject: not doing "school"
  • Mad Skills in: playing
  • Looking forward to: classes with other 4 year olds at co-op
  • Strengths: great memory, helpful, generally cheerful, inquisitive, playing alone, singing, computer skills
  • Weaknesses: bossiness, strong-willed, interrupting, leaves disasters and doesn't clean them up (without being warned and /or helped) 
  • You can find her: on the computer, singing and/or playing Frozen, playing toys in her room, bossing her sisters around, playing outside, working puzzles, asking questions, drawing on the white board
This is the "iBoy"
  • Age: will be 16 months old September 1.
  • Grade level: baby.
  • Favorite Subject: lunch.
  • Least Favorite Subject: naptime.
  • Mad Skills in: getting things out.
  • Looking forward to: chasing his sisters, once he really gets this walking thing figured out
  • Strengths: independent, curious, makes us laugh, fairly even-tempered, extreme adorability
  • Weaknesses: stubborn, tends to laziness, somewhat picky eater, doesn't say much yet
  • You can find him: taking books and toys off of shelves, exploring, chasing the cat, eating, getting into places and things where he doesn't belong, pulling up shirts so he can find people's bellies (this, to him, is hilarious), making people happy
Class pet:
Sammy Kitty
  • Age: unknown
  • Grade level: she does what she wants
  • Favorite Subject: recess
  • Least Favorite Subject: anything noisy
  • Mad Skills in: balancing on narrow things
  • Looking Forward to: the next time the family eats outside and the iBoy drops his food
  • Strengths: gentle with children, catching mice, hiding
  • Weaknesses: kind of obsessed with food, needs constant attention from any adult outside
  • You can find her: she finds you
Have you homeschooled multiple children at once? What are your best tips?
Linking up with:
Living and Learning at Home

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Dear Isaiah: Life After Miscarriage

It's August 17 again.

It comes around every year.

We ought to be celebrating as you smear cake and icing on yourself. I can imagine the party, reliving your two years of life, sharing our favorite stories of the things you've done. I can imagine you opening your presents, excited with the shiny new toys. Or maybe you'd take the boxes and wrapping paper instead.

We would celebrate you.

But, of course, we're not. There's no cake. There's no party. There are no gifts.

There's no you.

I'm not sure I've admitted this before, but one of the things I regret the most about your short weeks of earthly existence is that you were not celebrated.

It's true. Your daddy and I were a little (OK, a lot) shocked by the realization that another baby was on the way. It knocked me down a bit. It wasn't my timing, I didn't think I was ready.

We kept you hidden. We talked about you only between ourselves. We didn't tell your sisters. We didn't tell your grandparents. We didn't tell our church. We didn't post on our blogs or Facebook or Twitter. Not because we were afraid of something happening to you, but because we were afraid of our own reactions to what people might say.

There might be more, "Are you trying for a girl?" type comments. (Oh, how I hated those.) Or the, "Wow, that's a lot of kids," kind of thing. (I'm more used to that these days, even though it's annoying.)

Not telling the news of you was more about us than you, more about us than them. Something inside was just not ready. So we didn't celebrate.

And then it was too late. Laughter turned to mourning and sweet secrets turned to ashes in the time it took a doctor to say, "I'm sorry."

Maybe If I had known how short your life would be, I would have told everyone. I would have appreciated every minute. I would have begged for more ultrasounds and as many pictures as they could take. I would have tried to avoid any bad things. I would have gone on bedrest or gone on a special diet or taken special medicines, something, anything, to try to keep you safe and sound inside. And even if all those measures had been in vain, I hope I would have treated you like the precious gift you were, instead of an inconvenience or the punchline to other people's jokes.

But I didn't know, and I didn't tell. And you came and left with a swiftness that still astonishes me, as if it were something I dreamed.

I don't know what your life is like in Heaven. I don't know what eternity looks like or feels like. I know it's better than I can imagine. I know you are never sad or scared or lonely (unlike your mommy). The joy in Heaven probably makes all earthly parties look a little ridiculous.

I tell you, Isaiah, because I need the whole world to know this: you are worth celebrating. You matter to me. I want you, more than I had realized back then, more than I could admit. And even now, even though we're separated and even though I can't hold you and murmur this to you as you fall asleep because you're worn out from the party for your second birthday, I love you.

I guess what I'm trying to say is: I celebrate you, little one.

Love always and always,

Other Posts in this Series:

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Weekend Links - August 16, 2014

Crazy busy weekend so, on to the links:

Spiritual / Inner Life
Marriage / Parenting
Blogging / Social Media
In the News
Interesting (Everything Else...)
What caught your eye this week?
Linking up with:

Friday, August 15, 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday: Games, Queen Victoria, Sports, and Haircuts

(I always think of this as "Non Sequitur Friday" when I participate or read the quick takes posts by others. But "7 Quick Takes" sounds better than "Hey, here are seven completely random things that came to mind in no particular order" Friday. Not to mention the graphic for that would be ridiculous.) 
Philip is away at a game convention for a few days. (Check out his blog Phantasio Games if you want to know more about that or his games.)

What that means: I am solo parenting.

What that really means: I drank a Coke last night (I almost never have pop during the week), I stayed up too late because I hate to go to bed by myself, and not one single meal has happened on time. But at least they happened, right?

This is the first time I can remember Philip, my parents, and my sister's family all being out of town at the same time. I do not like it. I'm definitely an introverted-introvert, but it just feels strange for that all to happen at once.

If you have noticed the sad lack of Queen Victoria picture books, here's one we stumbled on last week (for our History chapter about The British Empire. I always like to have a picture book or two for the younger kids):

My two youngest daughters heartily recommend it. It rhymes and everything.

I told the older two girls if they cleaned up the kitchen & dining room, they could make banana bread. Then I ran to the store to get a few things.

When I got back the kitchen & dining room were as clean as they'd been in a week. I praised them highly, of course, but it did highlight the obvious: they are fully capable of cleaning when they want to, and they don't need me to supervise every step.

I think they've been running a long con on me.

(P.S. I shared our favorite banana bread recipe here: Chocolate Chip Banana Bread.)

Saw this on Pinterest this week:
Definitely true for me (except baseball, which I love). It certainly felt appropriate with football season coming on.
I don't know what the weather has been in your neck of the woods, but here where I live, it's basically been the nicest weather ever. It's been so unseasonably cool we've hardly gone swimming at all.

Which makes the Eeyore in me pretty sure this winter will be awful. Again.

Anyway, plenty of time for that later. But I seriously can't remember another August where I had to tell my children, "You might want to take a sweater."

I mentioned when I shared our Homeschool space (see: Living and Learning at Home) that you never know what you might see on the kids' easel.

The other night my husband and I looked over and saw this:
Something about that just feels vaguely ominous. Like A Beautiful Mind, or something. No one claimed responsibility for it, although I do have my suspicions, of course.

We took all the children for haircuts this week. We went to the lady who cuts Philip's hair. It took an hour, and that was with everyone being good.

She asked if I wanted one too, but by that point I just wanted to leave. One hour in a beautician's shop with only old issues of People Magazine to read is not my prefered way to spend an afternoon. (Forgot my Kindle. Rookie mistake.)

What's up in your world this week?

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!