Sunday, August 31, 2014

everything old is new again

The kids are all playing Minecraft together a lot, now that we have a few spare laptops. It's Gloria's learn-to-read reward, a Minecraft account of her own. She deeply wants to play. Here's Faith, Abby, Gilbert and Trixie all playing:


Gloria could play, of course, without reading, but the way the kids play is as much text-roleplay-makebelieve as Minecraft, and relies heavily on being able to read fluently. I must say it's lit a fire under her to push through the anxiety she has about it. She's almost scared to try because she's afraid she'll get it wrong. This is great for her to see that she can get it wrong, a lot, and still be making progress. 

This isn't the first time she's attempted to read, but this is the farthest we've ever gotten. I think it's a combination of, first, age; she's older than she's ever been and more able to deal with defeat. Second, motivation; she really, really wants to play that game! And third, the method; McGuffey every few days. I decided a book that taught hundreds of millions of children to read was probably worth a try. It is going so much better than any of the modern methods!


Ann's cat, of course.
The amusing juxtaposition of teaching a child to read with a book from the nineteenth century so she can play a videogame from the twenty-first isn't lost on me, never fear. And that it's a game where you're basically a pioneer, forging new paths in the (virtual) wilderness. Ain't it grand?

Friday, August 29, 2014

Some photos

I was looking over some old blogs and decided I need to blog again. Here's a start.

Pictures of the baby don't capture her wiggle as well as gifs.




The others wiggle too.



And Dorfy.


Tonight I've made potato soup and we'll eat it with yesterday's bread.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Plum wore out

We made sand plum jam from our sand plum bushes!

The pulp cooking down.


Ready to be processed in the water bath. Look at that color!


Clink. Clunkityclink. Clink.


The four older girls were essential to this task. Faith minded the babies, Abby pitted and chopped, and Trixie and Gloria picked the plums!



POP. POP. POP!

Recipe here.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

life lessons

Forcing the teenagers to build wire shelving.



UPDATE: they triumph!


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

home stretch


Absolutely exhausted today. I'm 37 weeks 2 days and nearing the end of my ability to function daily as anything other than a gestation machine. Being 40 makes a difference too. Today I woke at about 7:15 to have coffee with Sean, then collapsed on the sofa from 9 to noon, was overcome again by 2 and slept with Dorothy until 4. And I'm still tired!

I managed to wash enough dishes for Sean to be able to make spaghetti for dinner, which is good because the process of dishwashing knackered me again!

If you need me I'll be on the couch. Zzzz.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Childhood favorite, found!

When I was young, I loved a good informative book. The Eyewitness series came out after my formative years had passed, or I would have had many of them. (I knew so much minute information that I was banned from playing Trivial Pursuit if my parents were playing with other adults because it was embarrassing to my parents' friends when I would outdo them, at age 10. It's no wonder I hated school.)

One of my favorites, as a little kid, was The Berenstain Bears Big Book of Science and Nature. I remember reading it over and over, between the ages of about 5 to 7. Actual Factual Bear was a great guide. Loved it! But alas, when I looked for it for my kids it was out of print.

No more!
The Berenstain Bears Big Book of Science and Nature
It's in print again! It came, last week sometime, and Trixie fell upon it. She's the first to devour the Ranger Rick magazine when it shows up, too. I hoped she'd like it.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Baby prep

Lilypie Maternity tickers

Clementine will be here this month! Someone I have never met but already she is loved by me, her father, and her seven siblings.

I'm very excited.

Here are her little tiny cloth diapers:


She has a dozen small covers and three dozen preemie prefolds. The covers fit from birth to 18 pounds or so, and the prefolds will start off one per cover, to be doubled as she needs more absorbent diapering. The top covers are made by Blueberry, but kind of hard to find, either the mini Coveralls or the Capri size 1. They are quite roomy and I like them, but they are a bit more costly than the bottom row covers, which are Rumparooz Newborn. I don't really need any more, but I'll probably buy a few because they are cute and I am prone to weakness in that area.

Her estimated arrival according to my last menstrual period is March 30th, but she will likely come early like nearly all her siblings. Gloria was the only one to see a due date, being born at 6:30 AM the morning after. All the others were a little early.

Come on, baby! Grow strong!

EDIT: Clementine Octavia was born early in the morning on April 5th, a full week past her due date!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

a toddler sweater


A toddler sweater in progress. This will barely fit Dorothy now, but it's intended for Clementine in the future. It will be a raglan sleeve, with rolled cuffs. Pretty much the simplest sweater one can make. Yarn is Knitpicks Stroll in Peapod and Eggplant, maybe? No pattern, just my own recipe. I have made countless sweaters like this.


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Snow day

Snow, then ice, then snow, with more snow and ice expected Thursday. It's wintry around here! But today, after the snow stopped, it was a perfect day to go outside. No wind, temps in the high 20s (-2 C) and overcast with no sun to glare.

Bede smacks Faith with  a snowball!


But...

Look out, Bede!


Wind up...


Piff! Take that, little brother!


Trixie and Gilbert.


Hi Gilbert! Don't slip, Gloria!


Abby and Faith, in a snowball-war truce.


Dorothy and I watched from the other side of the window, thanks.


What a great day.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Blanket for Clementine

Yarn is Peaches and Cream 100% cotton in Winterberry, pattern is "giant bias dishcloth", cat is added for scale.




I'm glad I finished the blanket before I finished the baby. 

The yarn is old, bought years ago for a sweater for Faith. It didn't want to be a sweater, though. I never felt like it would suit actual dishcloths either, but this was what it was waiting for.

Getting ready for you, baby!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

cloth diaper evangelizing: Blueberry Coveralls

A woman at my church is expecting a baby around the end of February. Being the enthusiast I am, I brought some cloth diapers to co-op to convert her to the Cult of Cloth.

There are many, many kinds of cloth diaper! They all include something absorbent inside and something waterproof outside. Sometimes these are sewn together (called an all in one, or AIO) and sometimes they are separate things (much more variety in this category.) I have used every type of cloth diaper, but my current favorite is  an example of the latter sort: prefolds and covers.

My favorite covers, and the ones I brought to entice my friend, are Blueberry Coveralls.

Here's Dorothy in one. Thanks for helping me wrangle the toddler, Gilbert!



Under the cover (the waterproof part) is an Econobum prefold, folded in thirds (the absorbent part.)

Dorothy weighs about 28 pounds and stands 32.5 inches tall. She's 18 months old, and is on the second rise setting of the cover. Blueberry Coveralls have three rise settings, letting them fit from 10-40 pounds. I'm skeptical that they would fit a 10-pound baby though. I think they'd start around 12 pounds.

This cover in particular is about a year and a half old. I bought it in August of 2012, and it's been in constant rotation since and shows no signs of wear. It has gussets at the leg, so it fits without gapping, and gives a little extra room if you want to put a thicker diaper in it, or add a doubler for night. The coverage in back is great and these diapers have never "blown out." In fact, when I do use a disposable diaper on Dorothy, I put one of these over it just in case (having suffered from a leaky disposable of disastrous proportion in the past.) Nothing gets through these covers!

I have too many, really, because I keep being enticed by the cute prints. But you could easily get by with 6-8 of them, and rotate them through the day. They come in snap and hook-loop close, but I only like the snap. It doesn't wear out, doesn't catch on stuff in the wash or get linty, and doesn't scratch the baby or enable them to escape the diaper easily (the riiiip of Velcro is not a happy noise.)

Care is easy, they wash with the diapers and can either tumble or hang dry. If you hang them they last longer, so that's what I do. I have an awesome drying rack now, but before that I just draped them over the shower rod.

Also, and this is important to me, Blueberry diapers are made in America. There are lots of good diapers made overseas, but there are lots of not-so-good ones too. And these are really great: durable, functional, dependable and CUTE.

So that ends my love song about Blueberry Coveralls.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

I contain multitudes. Or at least, more than 12.

There's this dippy little internet quiz floating around currently. I know, is there any other kind of internet quiz? But this one is published by TIME, which makes it dippy with a vague sense of authority, or something. Anyway, here it is, "Can TIME Predict Your Politics?"

I took it, and let me tell you, those are some dumb questions. That's the point, though; the quiz categorizes your political views based on your views on non-political stuff. Well, mostly. Three of the twelve questions are political, so, 25%. But the other ones are to do with your taste in filmed entertainment and pets, among other topics.

It didn't get me right.


(Apparently my pet preference isn't very telling at the polls.)

It reminds me of the Whitman poem, "Song of Myself" 
(Talk honestly, no one else hears you, and I stay only a minute longer.) 

Do I contradict myself? 
Very well then I contradict myself, 
(I am large, I contain multitudes.) 

I concentrate toward them that are nigh, I wait on the door-slab. 

Who has done his day's work? who will soonest be through with his supper? 
Who wishes to walk with me? 

Will you speak before I am gone? will you prove already too late? 
In the ephemeral world of social media this quiz will be gone before next week, and is almost certainly too late.






Wednesday, January 15, 2014

back to school

Finally finally back to homeschooling today. Such as it is, we do math for 20-30 minutes a day. In the near future we will be participating in the co-op's geography fair, for which the children have chosen Mongolia. I'm looking forward to that, because all I know about Mongolia is Genghis Khan and yurts. Or gers. Whatever these are:


And that family from Babies. Actually that baby in particular, Bayar, was the straw that broke the camel's back as far as softening my heart towards having another baby, after Gloria. He reminded me so much of Gilbert. So cute.


And now I have yet another on the way! Babies, why stop at seven.

Anyway, I digress.

Other than that I guess we don't do much regular school. The children read regularly, books of their own choosing. I think they need to write more, because I think writing is getting more and more important in these days, and I think they need to be able to accurately obtain information from varied sources, with a weather eye to what sources are legitimate and what are unreliable. So I may be assigning things for them to do this year to hone those skills as well. Especially Faith, who is no longer a child but not yet an adult, with the open eyes and thirst that accompanies that phase of life.

 And there is still the matter of Gloria learning to read, which she is freaked out by. That's ok. She can learn when she's ready, and in the meantime she's soaking up literacy. I'm shocked that she will be SIX next week. Holy cow.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

I think we're better, finally!

Man were we sick. But now we're okay!

We went to co-op yesterday, after being away for over a month between holidays and sickness. Everyone did pretty well. I keep the uncooperative ones (ha ha, you see what I did there) in the vestibule while the students are in class. It's a pain to stay and a pain to leave, but we usually choose to stay. It takes an hour and a half to drive home and back to the church and the kids are there for... an hour and a half. So there's no point in going home. And as far as doing anything other than going home, the church is ten miles outside of city limits in the middle of a wheatfield. So going anywhere else is problematic too. We usually just sit around and wait.

Yesterday was tolerable though, because I brought brand new markers and three pads of heavy paper. Bede, Trixie and Gloria spent the whole time drawing. I never liked to draw as a child, and I certainly don't as an adult, so it's kind of alien to me that someone could spend hours making marks on paper. And the marks look like, you know, art.





Dorothy spent the whole time in my lap. She's less shy than she has been, but she wasn't quite up to snuff yesterday still. Here she is, still slightly snotty.




See how I'm keepin' it real? Just ignore the incredibly messy house and focus on the crusty haystack-headed toddler. Wait, that didn't come out right. Oh well, she's sure cute.

It is nice to have a reason for the house to be messy, though. Usually it's just because we're kinda lazy.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Carseat get: SnugRide 30

With another baby comes another carseat. Now, we have a big car (a Freghtliner-branded Mercedes Sprinter) but we also have a lot of folks to fit in it. So a round of carseat juggling is in order.

Dorothy has a convertible Graco My Ride 65 much like this, although a year older. It's a fine seat but man is that thing wiiiiiide. And tall! I mean, it fits kids to 46 inches (116 cm), it has to be tall. Anyway, it's a big seat!

We wanted something a little smaller for Clementine so we would have more options as to where to place seats. We do like the Graco line in general, so I looked at their infant seats.

(A brief aside to those less knowledgeable about carseats: Infant seats are the smaller, baby bucket type seats. They fit younger babies and toddlers, and are only rear-facing. Convertible seats are the larger seats that always stay in the car. They can go from rear facing to forward facing, hence "convertible". They fit babies from newborn to 40 pounds and beyond.)

A recent trend in infant seats is a welcome one: they are available for taller and heavier infants. They used to go to 22 pounds and 29 inches tall, which my kids would bust rather quickly. (Wee Glees are not really so wee.) Many newer seats go to 30 or 35 pounds, and fit 30 to 32 inches (76-81 cm.) The reason all this matters is: the longer a kid can rear face, the better, as it is much harder on the body to be in a car accident facing forward, especially young bodies with disproportionately heavy noggins and scrawny little necks.

There were two Graco models in the running, the SnugRide 30 and the SnugRide 35. I went with the 30, because I wanted to be sure someone could ease past it to sit in the middle between it and the Barcalounger, I mean, My Ride 65. I got this design for the cover
SnugRide 30
because it was the lightest color, and in Oklahoma summertime the car gets Very Hot. I would have loved it to be even lighter, but there you go.

Thus endeth the long Carseat Ramble! I may thrill you even further with photographs of the install, if you are really, really good.