Daybook: mid-March

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Outside my window: snow, but not enough to shovel. Just enough to make driving a pain. Last week our crocuses bloomed, and the tulips are getting taller. Sam pruned the roses earlier this month, so we can actually see the bulbs emerging.

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In the kitchen: kittens wolfing down their tuna. (I should used a cat metaphor there. Lioning? Cougaring? Ew, no. Wolfing will do.)

Sam went to the grocery store yesterday, so there’s a chance I’ll cook some food this week. Moriah made these lemon basil cookies, so in a pinch we can just eat those.

We can’t eat it, but my orchid rebloomed. This is the first time I’ve ever kept one alive long enough to bloom a second time. Hooray.

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In the school room: We’ve had a lot of performances. Willy Wonka (we are the proud parents of an Oompa Loompa) and High School Musical, Jr. were early in the week, and dance was this weekend. Whew. Everyone is beat.

During the plays, we had a lot of complaining about “being forced” to watch one’s siblings’ performances. Then afterwards, I asked them all what the difference between the performance and the dress rehearsal was. (Same stage, same cast, same costumes, same lines… but no audience.) We had a good discussion about the importance of the audience, and- thankfully- everyone came without complaining to the dance performance.

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I might be slightly biased, but I thought they were great.

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We all are ready for a break. The boys’ outside classes all have different spring breaks [they lose], but we are trying to embrace a lighter schedule. We took a few good walks [totally worth the whining] and are planning to see the Degas exhibit later this week.

In my shoes: I managed one run this week, and I love walking. I’ll take what I can get.

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On my reading shelf: I’m creeping through Deuteronomy, Hannah Coulter (Wendel Berry) and The Newcomers (Helen Thorpe.) I have a shortage of reading time right now.

Grateful: For the abundance of these days. For good conversations with my kids. For walks and crocuses and birds awing and hens laying eggs again. For all of it.

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Praying for: Mandy. Judy. Austen. Caregivers and new parents and those who grieve. Kids making college decisions (and their parents). Stillness within the storms.

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Daybook: Early March 2018

Outside my window: They are finally building the income-qualified housing on our corner (promised 10 years ago!) so I’m hearing lots of big trucks. I just heard a concrete mixer pull up, so we may go watch them pour some foundations later.

In the kitchen: Phoebe is making pancakes. It’s rare that she gets to cook alone [i.e. without a big sister telling her what to do], so I’m trying not to hover.

Also, we finally hung the pendant lights in the kitchen. We moved into this house four years ago and have been looking for glass pendants in cobalt since then. I thought I’d found just the right thing in a bar about a year after we came, but they had been brought back from Florence in the restaurant owner’s luggage. This fall, we were up in Estes Park for a weekend, and someone told us to check out the glass blowers up there. Turns out they’ll do all kinds of custom glass work, and this is what they did for us. I love them.

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Around the house: I came home from my hospital shift this weekend to find the house piled with laundry. (Sick + house guests + washer that wasn’t draining = laundry mountain. #math) I spend half of Monday watching DIY videos on how to clean out the drain trap, flooding the laundry room with water, scooping out all the detritus from the trap (ewwww! I know people think what I do at the hospital is gross, but it’s got nothing on this) and trying to screw the plug back in. I watched the first three loads with great trepidation, lest my insufficient torque allowed the water to drain all over the floor, but I think I solved the problem. Now I just have to fold it all…

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In the garden: I haven’t started any seeds yet, but the chickens have definitely noticed the change in the light. They laid these for us this morning.

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In my shoes: February was a bust for running. Between sickness and travel, I ran twice. That means I’m to square one for distance. On the bright side, I run slowly enough to see all the minute changes happening in everyone’s gardens. Tuesday I saw daffodils, crocuses, and all sorts of colorful branches fattening up their buds.

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In the school room: Owen’s robotics team competed in Utah last week and did awesome (mombrag!) although they didn’t qualify for Worlds. Two weeks ago, all three of the big kids placed at National History Day regionals, so now we need to make some improvements in their projects for state. When we turned the corner into March, Jonah’s AP exams suddenly felt much closer (at least I remembered to register him for them this year!). He is still anxiously checking the mailbox every day for college letters. Lots going on.

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We are reading Little Town on the Prairie (spoiler alert) with new eyes now that Jonah is looking at college. When we read it seven years ago, the passages about Mary’s impending departure were not so personal to us.

Speaking of spoilers, the kids keep reminding me of the day we drove past Vinton, Iowa, and I pointed out that that was where Mary went to the school for the blind. We had only read the first few books and had not gotten to On the Shores of Silver Lake. Three horrified children (and one baby) all started screaming, “Mary goes blind??!!!”

Grateful: For our new niece who arrived last week- what a blessing! For healthy outcomes at the hospital after some scary moments this weekend. For this awesome Ted talk we watched (Shawn Achor: The happy secret to better work), for last month’s visit with my friends in NC (still savoring those moments), and for getting to see Hamilton last week. (We were only able to procure 4 tickets, which meant the girls were out of luck. But then Owen ended up traveling, and Jonah gave his ticket to his sister. Awwwww.)

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Praying for: Mandy. Judy. Lori. Ruth. Austen. Christine. Rev. Anna’s move. Those suffering from depression or violence (or both.) Refugees.

 

 

7QT: Don’t you have something you’re supposed to be doing?

One: After two weeks of illness (one child on antibiotics, another on Tamiflu, me on nothing as I hacked up one or more of my lungs) we are finally clawing out way back into schooling at home. Sam is coming down with something now, too, but since he’s goes to work to be sick, I don’t really count him as one of the stricken.

Two: Man, getting back into this is rough. In the midst of that, Sam and I both traveled. I really should have stayed at home, but… I wanted to see my friend. I saw her, but I spent the whole time afraid I was going to give her the plague.

Three: Speaking of plagues, we adopted a lovely cat. His name (spoiler alert) was Julian.
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Then his larynx swelled up, and despite high-dose steroids and a veterinary ICU and more steroids and another vet, he still died. After his necropsy, at which the vet couldn’t determine the cause of the allergy/infection/laryngeal edema NOS, she called me back to ask if I’d been able to get his shot records from his previous owner. No, I hadn’t. So she put us on Rabies Watch, had the county public health nurse call us to find out our travel plans and if any of us were acting strangely, and billed us $65 for rabies testing. Just like that, our family went from the infectious disease specialists to the possible source of an urban rabies outbreak. (Better spoiler: he didn’t have rabies, and neither do we.) Here is a gratuitous photo of the new cat, whose rabies vaccination I have documented on paper.

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Four: Anyway… now, two weeks later we have adopted a replacement cat, and everyone is trying to get back in the groove. To that end, everyone made it to the co-op for classes this week, all the adults went to their gainful employment, and I’ve been trying to teach things to the children with limited success.

Five: On Monday, I made it till one-thirty before I had to crawl into my bed for a nap. When I got up, I went to see where Phoebe one of the children was with her work.

Mom: Where are you with your school work today? Do you need help with math?

Anonymous Child: Why are you asking? Don’t you have some work you’re supposed to be doing?

Mom: I was under the impression that helping you with math was my work.

So that was really successful. I should have stayed in bed.

Six: Yesterday I finally made it outside for a run. I discovered three things:

  • two weeks without exercise turned me into a meatball, and I couldn’t breathe.
  • spring is coming, whether the bomb cyclone and Storm Emma realize it
  • exercise is my anchor activity.  Once I made the effort to exercise again, all sorts of other things became possible, like making dinner and putting bleach in the toilets and following up on my daughter’s math.

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The guardian of spring.

Seven: However, an anchor is not entirely sufficient to return everything to normal. In order get us back in the routine, I had to pull out the paints and insist everyone make some art while I read aloud to them. An hour later, the children wandered off to play Minecraft and left me with a huge arty mess to clean up. I think this means we’re back in the groove.

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Be sure to visit Kelly at This Ain’t the Lyceum for more Quick Takes.

Grateful: Feb 2018

I had a chance to spend the weekend with one of my dearest, longest friends. I was sick as a dog and had about two hours of endurance between naps, but we made the most of those moments. Somehow it didn’t occur to me once to take a photo of the two of us, or of her family who both made me welcome and then made room for us to take a short road trip. The only photos I took were a handful in the Duke Gardens, where we took a short walk on this winter’s most beautiful day.

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There are more than a few spots in my soul that are deeply dormant, if not dead, in this season.  I am grateful for friends who remember who I am, deep down, and who will wait in this winter garden with me until life comes back.

Mid-Winter Update: What’s saving my life right now

I’ve enjoyed Modern Mrs. Darcy’s What’s Saving My Life series for a few years. In that spirit, here’s what’s saving my life right now:

Thick hand cream and rubber gloves:

During the winter (and with all my hand-washing in the clinic) my hands get so dry they crack. There are lots of expensive options out there, but I like the $4 Vaseline’s intensive care deep moisture cream. This is not a sponsored post. I think it works; I like the price; I can still open doorknobs afterwards. All the same, I still need to use rubber gloves for all my household tasks involving water.

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Candles

For the first time ever, I recently returned a candle to a store because the fragrance was too strong. (No, I hadn’t burned it yet.) Generally, I love candles, the more the merrier. Burning them all winter long (especially in February) makes me feel cozy and warm.

Books

Normally in February, I reach for old favorites. I hate investing my imagination in a new book and discovering I have chosen poorly. Currently on my reading table: Pride and Prejudice and The Westing Game.

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Getting Outside

There’s a direct correlation between how much time I spend cooped up indoors and my mood. At this stage in our schooling and in life, I have to be very intentional to make my outside time happen, but when I make it happen, life is better. For all of us.

Music

My current favorite music to listen to includes Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings, the music from the musical Waitress, and Ingrid Michaelson.

What’s saving your life right now?

7QT: My baby is going to graduate

One: I ordered Jonah’s high school diploma today.

Yes, I am showing you Meg Ryan’s ugly cry because 1) my ugly cry is really, really ugly and 2) I am old.

Two:  I had to write in the name of our school. Years ago, we spent a few days brainstorming names for our home school. That was long before we had reached full enrollment (of 4) and all the grades (currently serving 4th-12th.) We came up with all sorts of lofty-sounding names, none of which I can remember now, but after two days they all sounded so ridiculous that we didn’t name it at all.

Three: Several hours earlier, Jonah had texted me because he forgot his calculator, which he was going to need later for an exam. He wondered if I could drive it to him.

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No, I could not. I am not Jennifer Garner. Lucky for him, he had cash and could go to the bookstore and spend his own money on a calculator before his test. #parenting.

Four: But I could order him a diploma, so I did. At lunch, I mentioned to the other kids that we had never named our school. They wanted to know why it mattered, and I mentioned the little matter of a diploma, and then Moriah started to cry because Jonah is going to graduate and move away.

Five: So here we are, friends. We started this homeschool journey 13 years ago, thinking it would be a one-year experiment. Now we’re ordering diplomas and having ugly cries.

Six: My advice to you is to name your school early, or it will be too late and your school will be the NoName Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Seven: Any ideas what he should write for his yearbook quote?

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Go check out Kelly for more Quick Takes!

 

In which I become the old woman who keeps cats

Sometime last year, my kids downloaded an app called Neko Atsume. It’s a Japanese Kitty Collector app (that makes it sound like that is a whole category of apps) in which you set out virtual food and virtual toys to attract virtual cats to your virtual yard. The cats, in turn, give you virtual fish and little virtual mementos of their virtual visits. What’s not to love?

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There’s truly no action in this “game.” I’m not sure it should rightly be called a game at all. No competition. No skill. No prizes. No levels. I love it anyway.

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This is Jeeves, who was very hard to attract to my yard, finally came last week, and gave me a small silver pocket watch. (More typical mementos include “random seeds” and “A small used stuffed penguin.”)

Anyway, while I was off collecting virtual cats, Sam began adopting real cats. This is Graycee:

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and this is Julian:
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I have to ask: who is this man who keeps bringing home cats, and what did he do with my husband? (If you see my actual husband somewhere, let me know. Reward offered.)