Monday, September 15, 2014

Crochet is No Laughing Matter. (Haha!) (my contribution to International Crochet Day 2014)

What??  September 12th was International Crochet Day and I missed it??  Well, even though I haven't been working on too many projects lately, it's always on my mind, so here is my better-late-than-never contribution to celebrating the craft:  (some of ) The Best Internet Crochet Humor.  (check out the Best Yarn Humor here.)

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Embrace the Ordinary (vol 9)

Yesterday I noticed James had some food in his hair.  A thought popped into my head - just put him in the tub.  And then my eyes opened wide and I sat up straight.  I can't put him in the tub yet!  He's only had one bath in the sink! 

One bath.  A seven and a half month old baby.  One bath.  I occasionally wipe him down with a warm washcloth or wash his hair, but baths for the little guy just haven't been a priority like they were for my first couple of children.  

I've become a fairly non-sentimental slacker when it comes to iconic baby photo ops. But every baby should have a sink bath at least a couple times in his life and the pictures that go with it, right?   Even though James is sitting and sturdy, I felt like I needed to squeeze one more "infant" bath in before I moved him to the tub...  

Done.  He's definitely graduated.  Too big, too inquisitive, too active and splashy.  And he's outgrown the hooded baby towels.  Next time, (in another seven months, perhaps?)  he'll be in the bathtub :)

"...there is something holy, something divine hidden in the most ordinary
situations, and it is up to each on of you to discover it."
Passionately Loving the World, St. Josemaria Escriva

Linking up with Gina at Someday (Hopefully) They'll Be Saints!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Seven Quick Takes (beets, cookies, Mark Twain, and more)

Remember when I told you that I don't really have time to blog?  That's why this is just going to be a neat little list of a few things that have been going on around here lately that don't involve ancient Egypt...  (except we did receive our Life in Ancient Egypt Dover coloring book in the mail yesterday!!  Seriously, Dover, are you sure you don't want to tap me for a spokesperson????)


If you feed a baby beets for breakfast, be prepared for the fact that he'll probably spend the rest of the day looking like a satisfied carnivore. (I wanted to write cannibal but that seemed a little too grotesque...)  


Want to know about something that makes school work a lot more fun than it otherwise may be?  Smencils.  Look into it.  They make the school table a little more pleasant place to be each day!


Taking some of my own advice from my recent "Preschool Posts" (read parts 1, 2, and 3 here) I've been making the most of the mornings my boys are at the study center and have been having wonderful time with my girls.  We've raided the library for books on apples, made pony bead bracelets, gone out strolling with mailman Dave, and have done some "painting."  It's been delightful!  (I've even managed to get a few lessons in with Ruth!  Things are looking up!)

a mother-daughter still life project

Want to reveal to me and the world what your favorite song to belt out in the car is??  Head over to the Ordinary Lovely facebook page to leave a comment.  Just look for the post with the super cute video that you may have already seen but know you want to watch again :)  


Here's a look at how I spend my Sunday afternoons nowadays - mapping out the boys' lessons for the upcoming week...

My two favorite things about this picture are (1) it feels so good to be planning their weeks this way.  I loved my old magnet board system, but it just wasn't going to be enough this year since there was no way to write specific assignments out.  Now, I'm plotting out which lessons need to be done each day and exactly what they are so that the boys can self start.  It's been working well and I'm so happy about the change - anything to help things run more smoothly around here!  And (2) LORNA DOONE's.  This pack of cookies mysteriously appeared on the kitchen counter last week, so I ate them.  I love Lorna Doone's, but never buy them for myself.  For me, they are a food with a strong emotional attachment that you usually only get to eat under very special circumstances.  At the hospital where four of my babies have been born, you can ask for a snack any time day or night and they always have Lorna Doone's.  Lorna Doone's and cranberry juice: the preferred snack of this postpartum mother :)  


A happy project from last month - crocheted matching pencil jar and zippered pencil pouch  birthday gift.   Haven't picked up a hook since then :( and have resigned myself to the fact that my awesome list of Christmas gifts to crochet might not get done.  (allow me to go cry quietly in the corner for a minute...)  


I posted this picture on the facebook page yesterday as a way to celebrate the fact that the school days have actually been going quite well this week!  I mean, you can't argue with little ones reading Mark Twain in big cozy chairs.  It's thoroughly American, and thoroughly adorable =)

Also wanted to mention again how much we love this books, so I'll direct you to this post in which I review and praise the Cozy Classics series.  Still love 'em, still recommend 'em.  

Happy, blessed Friday everyone!  

Thank you Jen for kicking off another weekend with Seven Quick Takes.   Don't forget to head over to Conversion Diary for more! 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Blog vs. Homeschool (mummies, toddlers, and coneheads, oh my!)

Me no very amount blog now these dayz.  I am making busy by learning my kidz about most important-er things like how to use grammar real good, spell wordz, learn one thing (just one thing, people!) about ancient Eeeeegyptians, and point to Egypt on a mmmaaaa.....  what's that word, again??

So... here it is.  This is the post where I tell you I'm not a good blogger and I'm not a great homeschooler, and I certainly can't be both at the same time right now.  A facebook friend recently challenged her friends (as she had done her high school literature students) to write a six-word summary of their life.   I'm long winded so, dull as my life may be, there's no way I'm fitting it in six words.  But these past three weeks?  I can sum it up: Homeschool hanging by thread.  Blog dead.  (It even rhymes!  Do I get extra points for that??)  Nearly everything extraneous in my life (stuff like blogging and even crocheting *gasp*) has taken a back seat so that I can get this "school thing" sorted.  

Blogging takes effort, and I enjoy putting creative energy towards it, but you know, there are seasons of life when "energy," creative or otherwise, is in short supply.  It takes me a long time to write.  Blog posts don't just flow out of me :( and I don't have the luxury of a few spare minutes here and there anymore to hit the keyboard because every waking moment seems to be consumed with something "school" related - actual lessons, planning lessons, researching how to do lessons better, making audio lesson playlists, cleaning up from lessons, panicking that no one has spotted the toddler since the last lesson, wondering can we please just throw the lessons out the window.  When I'm not involved in "school" stuff, I'm dealing with real life situations like finding a stick of butter in a bedroom garbage can, threatening to serve Lego tires for dinner if I find another child chewing on a Lego tire like it's a snack, and (still) recovering from my son carrying a dead bat into my home with his bare hands (happened a month ago).  (Please note: in case you ever come to visit us, the newest and most important rule in our home is you may never ever, ever approach me with your hands behind your back and say, "guess what?"  Ever.)

But back to the lessons.  As far as "school" in concerned, I feel like we may have hit a Bermuda Triangle (BT) kind of year.  Well, I guess I should clarify that I don't think our school year is doomed, but I do feel like I'm going to have to fall off the grid of life to keep it afloat.  We're  only two and half weeks in and I can already see that this may be one of the most challenging years we will live through (or maybe I'm super naive and they really will just get harder???)  

In one corner of the BT, I have a child in 3rd grade who has a lot of advanced work expected of him from the study center he attends.  He does  not read proficiently enough to read the assignments to himself (history and lit) and he struggles with memorization (Latin).   His primary interest in ancient Egypt lies in whether or not modern-day monster trucks could make the jump over the Great Pyramid of Giza.  And would it be a Dodge or a Ford?  He still needs a lot of individual attention.

In another corner of the BT, I have a second grader who needs remedial attention in the fundamentals - reading, writing, math.  He picks up everything else fairly easily, but focusing on those things right now is at the expense of the basics.  He knows all kinds of real information about Egypt because he retains everything he hears but it takes him the better part of an eight-hour day to write the word N-I-L-E. He needs a lot of individual attention.  

In the third corner of the BT, I have a baby who... juuuuuusssst woke up crying.  Rats.  Said baby is dragging himself around to get where he wants to be and will be crawling in approximately 2.7 days.  Horror of horrors.  And then there is  a toddler.  Oh my goodness, I could give you a list the size of the continent of Africa of what she's capable of in the fifteen minutes it takes me to do a spelling lesson, but it would be too painful.  She's a t-o-d-d-l-e-r.  Assume the worst, and that's what she's up to.  (I should remark that she's a "toddler" in the sense that she's INTO EVERYTHING, but that thankfully, she's not prone to tantrums and the like.  Thankfully.  Knock on laptop plastic.)   

If you are new to homeschooling and are wondering what to do with your baby and toddler while you are doing lessons with the older children, the old-school books (or present-day books by delusional authors) say that the "baby and toddler will play contentedly at your feet."  Even the most clueless of persons knows that this is some sort of cruel Candid Camera setup and that people in a distant room are in hysterics while watching you try to make that happen.  

So, forget the old books.  Turn to modern technology.  Have you ever Googled "How to homeschool with toddlers?"  In a moment of panic, I did this two years ago when Ruth was a toddler.  These lists are ridiculous.   Here are some real life examples of what various blogs and "Pins" suggest you do to entertain your toddler during lessons time:  
Ridiculous Suggestion No. 1 - Fill up the kitchen sink with water and let your toddler stand on a chair and create hazardous kitchen floor puddles play with cups and spoons and washcloths and sponges.  

Ridiculous Suggestion No. 2 - Fill a shallow plastic bin with rice and allow your toddler to ingest dry rice and eventually explode like those pigeons who feast at-outdoor weddings  "sensory exploration" time using cups and spoons and mini rakes and funnels.   

Ridiculous Suggestions No. 3 - Fill a plastic gallon bag with ketchup.  Tape it to the table and allow toddler to poke holes "paint" on the bag with their finger.

Ridiculous Suggestion No. 4 - Give your toddler a pan full of salt and droppers full of food coloring and allow him to sodium overdose squirt and swirl colors into the salt.  

Ridiculous Suggestion No. 5 - Give your toddler a can of shaving cream and allow her to learn the difference, first hand, between shaving and whipped cream practice writing her letters on a cookie sheet.

Ridiculous Suggestion No. 6 - Put a small plastic pool in the kitchen and fill it with plastic balls for your toddler to throw at you play in.  

Ridiculous Suggestion No. 7 - Spread a tarp on the floor and let your toddler graffiti play with silly string.


The reality of all these suggestions, in addition to the total chaos which I'm sure you've imagined ensues when one wittingly gives a toddler rice, shaving cream, and KETCHUP, is that most of these scenarios probably end up with the distracted mother slipping on water/rice/balls/silly string or whatever, and breaking a major bone (not just a toe, for instance) and NO LESSONS GET DONE FOR THE DAY.  No. Lessons.  Mother in traction.  But seriously, lady.  You're the one who gave her the rice and shaving cream and ketchup in the first place.  Poetic justice.

what homeschooling with toddlers did to the ancient Egyptian woman

The reality is there is no easy way to homeschool with a toddler.  Just prepare yourself for distraction, disaster, and dysfunction, and you won't be disappointed at the end of the day.  Kidding.  Sort of.   So, back to my Bermuda Triangle.  The baby and the toddler - they need a lot of individual attention.

Hovering in and about the BT that is our homeschool, is an eager Kindergartner, who enjoys the occasional lesson, and neither gets into much trouble nor crawls around on the floor.  She does not need a lot of individual attention, but she does need help putting on clip-on earrings for dress-up and a lot of praise, encouragement, and paper for the seventeen thousand pictures she draws each day.  She also needs one of those roadside-garbage-picker-upper-spears to collect her artwork at the end of the day.  You would think a class 5 hurricane went through here based on the places her works of creative genius end up.  

did they have clip-ons back then???

So, put it all together and what to do you get?  Me doing things and stuff all day long that don't involve Ordinary Lovely (or crochet hooks and yarn, for that matter.)  Maybe at some point, things will even out around here - children will read on their own, a sweet voice will be overheard in the next room pleasantly humming "puto, putare, putavi, putatum / exspecto, exspectare, exspectavi, exspectatum," a child will correctly identify a "b" and then a "d", he will then neatly write his numbers from 1 to 20, a baby will grow accustomed to (dun, dun, dun) a playpen, and the toddler will stop "getting a little drink of water" that is somehow simultaneously small enough to fit in a  paper Dixie cup but also large enough to resemble the annual swelling of the Nile, soaking the entire bathroom floor and the last roll of toilet papyrus paper in the house.

I have so many things I've been wanted to write about.  They have to wait.  I guess if I'm not blogging much in the near future, you'll know it's because addition, subtraction, cursive, and phonics.  Oh, and we're going tomb raiding tomorrow!  But I know I won't be able to stay away too long because I love hanging out here and typing out ideas and being with friends on my virtual back porch.  And did you know that if we lived in ancient Egypt, it's more likely that we'd be outside on the roof and we'd be chatting with cones of perfumed wax on our heads so as not to be offensive to one another (odor-wise)??  It's nice not to have that conehead distraction here, isn't it?  I'm just sayin' :)  

Monday, September 8, 2014

Siblings: My Gift to Myself, My Gift to Them (another archives cheater post)

Happy Monday morning to you!  

It's a happy Monday morning here, though I admit I'm unhappy about how inactive I've been here lately, so I'm trying to keep things looking lively with a few posts from the archives.  I know, it's cheating, but it's better than letting Ordinary Lovely go Ordinary MIA.  So... I really liked this post from last year and I really  like this back-to-school picture of the kiddos, so I'm combining them to bring you...

Siblings: My Gift to Myself, My Gift to Them

While I'm not posting a lot right now, I'll obviously be checking for comments and answering them because I'm so appreciative that you're good enough to keep up the conversation with me, even when I'm not in a position to gift you with new and exciting material :)  Thanks!  Catch you later in the week!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Embrace the Ordinary (vol. 8)

"Hot August night
And the leaves hanging down
And the grass on the ground smellin' sweet..."

Ok, fine... these pics were taken yesterday, which was technically September, but I couldn't resist the "Brother Love's" reference.  It was so hot and humid yesterday, this was the perfect end to a sticky, sweaty day...

"...there is something holy, something divine hidden in the most ordinary
situations, and it is up to each on of you to discover it."
Passionately Loving the World, St. Josemaria Escriva

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

"Is It Getting Fruity in Here?" (Reaching Into the Archives)

Recently, someone left a comment on this post I wrote back in March, 2013.   Thank you, Christine!  I had forgotten about writing it and really appreciated re-reading it.  It was timely encouragement.  So, as I have no plans for posting anything fresh for a few days, I'm putting this out there again in case you (like me!) may need a little nudge to ask for some of what the the Holy Spirit has to offer!  (hint: they are the visible attributes of an authentic Christian life, not the juicy stuff you find in the produce department!)  

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