Seven Quick Takes: Smack down edition

One: In accordance with the cosmic law that Low Must Follow High (I know it’s not true, but it feels true), I am here to report on the smack down that followed my last message of hope and encouragement.


“That’s right.  It’s not true.  It just feels true.”

Two: It happened on Monday, when we had one of our worst homeschooling days in a long time. There were tears (not just mine, which the children have come to expect so that they [the tears, not the children] make less impact than they might), and by the end of the day- when the work was still not finished- I locked myself if my room saying, “I don’t care what you do now, but I’m going to do some yoga.” I don’t think I slammed the door.

Three: We spent Sunday pulling out the garden, since it was going to freeze anyway.  You may recall that I had planted mostly butternut squash and a tiny bit of carrots and broccoli, since everything else we get from our local CSA. I felt pretty boss when we brought all that squash inside. Also, we harvested a broccoli that was almost as tall as Phoebe.

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Four: I made pot pie this week and thought I would be smart and put in some of the broccoli stem for extra bulk and nutrition. It seemed a little tough when I peeled it, but I figured it would soften up as it simmered.  Spoiler: it did not. It remained the consistency of wood chips, and we had to pick it piece-by-piece out of the pot pie.  And then it snowed.

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Five: We spent the morning after the snow pulling out snow clothes so we could make a snowman and play outside, which was extremely fun for 17 minutes, and then the snow melted and I was left with snow pants or boots on every available surface. I will keep tripping over them until I put them away next May, when it will promptly snow again.

Six: I went for a run a few hours after the above photo was taken. I wore several shirts, my hat and mittens, and wool socks and dissolved a puddle of sweat after approximately eight minutes. But at least the view was stunning.

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Seven: Now it’s Friday, and I cleaned all the old food out of the fridge. Look what I found! (I rock at this housekeeping thing.) I’m thinking that’s Aspergillus growing on what might have been cream cheese several years ago. I may have to feed my family actual wood chips later, but at least we’ll have a good science class first.

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7QT: Instead of the news

One: It’s been hard to write this year. There is so much terrible news, and all of it is much more important than anything I have to say about school or local food. When I finally get over it to write something and schedule it to post automatically Monday morning, something terrible happens (looking at you, white supremacists who overran Charlottesville, and nutcase in Barcelona) and then my response appears to be some links about the upcoming eclipse.  There are many thoughtful, wise responses to the state of our nation and world.  I’m sorry that you won’t find them here.  Read them first, and then when you can’t take reality any more, you can pick up some sheet cake and come back here to read about something less distressing.

Two: Welcome back. While you were gone, I’ve been organizing our books.  Every year I  pull out the ones I want to have handy to assign for school.  I’ve been putting it off this summer because… well, see #1 above.  (It’s not just writing that’s been hard.)  But school starts on Monday, and I’m running out of time. I began yesterday by going through all the shelves and pulling out the books I need. Now I have to make room for them in a convenient spot, which involves moving those books somewhere else.  Anyway, it quickly became overwhelming.

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Three: So instead of finishing the task, I moved on to the abundance in the kitchen.  It’s August, which means melons and corn and tomatoes and peaches. Hallelujah. A God who made the peach is Someone I can get behind.

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I used to spend a hot, August afternoon sweating over the canner with these beauties. No more. Now I wash them, slice them in half to remove the pit, and freeze them on parchment paper. (The peaches, not the pits.) It takes about 10 minutes and involves no heat. Then, when the peaches are frozen, I throw them in bags.  In the winter they are perfect for the cobblers and smoothies that are the antidote to the February blues.

Four: While I’ve been working hard (or running to escape the news), the children are struggling with boredom. Poor things. I feel so sorry for them.

Five: Phoebe has taken to writing a newspaper.  I was nervous about this at first, until her first two articles were Tips about the Eclipse and Tips for Going Back to School. A girl after my own heart.

Six: Moriah has been coping by baking. Alas, that enables my coping by eating. After days of double chocolate chip cookies, lemon bars and flourless chocolate cake (she has been limited only by the egg production of our hens), I begged her please to make something that could count as lunch.  “Here,” I said, “use all these gorgeous tomatoes to make some sauce.”

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Seven: Teenage boredom for the win. Now if I could only talk her into helping me with the books…

When you can’t take the real news any more, check out Kelly for more Quick Takes.

7QT: Summer Screen Time

Although our weather doesn’t quite feel like summer yet (we had 6 inches of snow a week ago), the kids are in full summer mode, which means eating popsicles, staying up late, and trying to have non-stop computer time.

Last summer, we implemented a checklist in order to make sure our days had some redeeming qualities, amidst the hours of screen time.  It worked so well, I’m implementing it again.  This year I’m trying to hold them to the American Association of Pediatrics’ recommendation for no more than 2 hours* of screens per day, although some of us can do an hour just in the bathroom!)

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So here, without ado, I present the 7 most common complaints in response to our summer screen time plan.

  1. Our friends can have as much computer time as they want! (I doubt this is true. In fact, I know it’s not true. It just feels true.)
  2. Owen’s been practicing for hours and won’t let any of the rest of us practice! (This one is actually true, and it’s why we now have two pianos.)

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3. I’m doing __________ (swim team/ballet/gymnastics) later, so can that count as my exercise?

 

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(The answer: not if you want to have computer time before you go.)

4. But there’s nothing to read!

 

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5. But the house is already clean! (Ummm….. no.)

6. There’s nothing to make! (How about breakfast? Or lunch? Or dinner?)

7. But I’m so booooooooooored! (Actually no one uses this one, because when you’re bored at our house, it means you get to clean the bathroom.)

What does summer screen time look like for you?  Are you texting your kids in the bathroom to tell them to slide the iPad out under the door?

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*update: I had originally write 1 hour (the AAP recommendation for 2-5 years olds.)  My children were so mad about this that actually went and looked up the recommendation for themselves.  It’s two hours per day of any kind of screen, for children older than 5. And no screens in the bedrooms, because they’ve been shown to interfere with sleep.

 

7QT: the April blur

One: I can hardly remember back to Lent, even though we’re not a full two weeks into Easter.  I know I totally stank at my Lenten disciplines (does that mean I picked the right ones, since they drove me right into an awareness of my need for grace?). Instead, I spent every spare minute studying for my board exam.

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Two: my friend Lori came to hang out with my kids during my exam.  (Excellent, but then I wanted to be with them the whole time!)  I should have the results just in time to register for the October exam again if I failed.

Three: One day while I was studying at Starbucks, a dog came in and got a puppiccino.  Apparently this is a thing.  And she liked it. A lot.

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Four: I had a list of things as long as my arm that I’d put off whilst studying (think showering, cleaning, cooking, exercising, answering emails, and all the other work sundries that I wouldn’t let spill into our homeschooling time).  When I finished, however, I spent a week just reading novels because I was so fried.  This week I managed to drag on some clothes, do yoga twice, and put up our Easter tree.

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Five: meanwhile, life marched on.  The girls had a dance performance at school.  Here’s Phoebe as Little Red [Riding Hood] and Moriah as a wolf (she’s the one in the furry legwarmers and scary make-up- second from the right):

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Six: This week I am finally finding my groove again, though Sam traveled to the middle-of-nowhere FEMA training site to learn how to protect us all from Ebola.

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Don’t you feel safer now?

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They seem to be having a little too much fun.

Seven: Tuesday I got to watch my friends’ 11-month old.  He loves Moriah, so she did a bunch of the baby-toting, and to be honest, he slept a lot.  But when he was awake, I spent most of time trying to figure out how to baby-proof my kitchen.  It involved a lot of rubber bands and kitchen tools to prop open drawers.

Baby-proofing:
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What’s going on in your neck of the woods?  Hopefully no Ebola.  Check out Kelly for more Quick Takes!

7QT: Spring break

This week was our spring break, so most of our time was spent pretending the children weren’t playing video games and watching bad Disney TV.  But I have a few photos to share.

One: Last weekend was Mo’s contemporary dance show, which involved transporting large numbers of costumes from the studio to the theater, and large amounts of dancing and portable snacks.  Not my strong suit.

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Sorry for the blurry photo, but it’s actually hard to take photos in the dark.

Two: After the performance, we drove up to the mountains, where spring has hit for real.  The aspen trees are blooming (I didn’t know they did that, actually. Who knew?) and the snow in places was like mashed potatoes.  But still, skiing beats not skiing.

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Three: The day all four of us skied, Phoebe spent the morning saying she wanted to go home.  We talked her into eating lunch on the mountain, and then she spent the afternoon racing us all down the hill. We are calling it a case of severe hypoglycemia-induced orneriness.

She was determined to ski her first black diamond, so we ended up on this horrible moguly run that had me frightened for her.  But when she saw a shortcut off it to the run next door (as it were), she stood up and skied bumpity bump off the mogul run, leaving me trying to catch up.  She did her first black without event, and then ran into a fire extinguisher getting out of the pool later and gave herself a huge egg on her head.

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Four:  I’m not normally into movies, but this week we watched several.  First, we saw Hidden Figures.  What a great film.  How come I had never heard of these awesome women before?  (Because they’re black, that’s why. Our country is so messed up.)  The movie was great.

Five: Then we watched Wag the Dog, a 1997 comedy. (IMDb’s description: Shortly before an election, a spin-doctor and a Hollywood producer join efforts to fabricate a war in order to cover up a presidential sex scandal.)  It’s rated R, but without graphic visuals on anything.  The dialogue moves quickly and is so cynical.  The commentary on our political scene is prescient.  Who knew I’d ever be missing George W?  Next up: Dave.

Six: And because one dark comedy isn’t enough, then we watched Dr. Strangelove or: How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bomb, a 1964 comedy about the insanity of the Cold War and fluoridation.

Seven: Now we’re headed down the mountain a day early, hoping to beat the storm that’s promising to freeze all the flowers on our peach tree.

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Somehow the tree survived last year’s freeze.  And despite what I thought in 8th grade, we all survived the Cold War.  Here’s hoping.

7QT: Can we take the rest of the month off?

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One: Our run of warm, dry winter days has ended.  Last Sunday, I saw these flowers coming up.  Today, our emerging tulips are frozen and buried.

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Two: It’s February, which means everything feels like a slog. Why is that?

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Three: We’ve been shaking up our school subjects in little ways, like multiplying with sugar cubes and writing poetry with magnets, but there’s only so much I can do to lighten the load for my high schooler.

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Four: last week I registered him for the ACT, the SAT subject test and 2 AP exams. (Between his exams and my Boards, this spring is going to be full of bubbles.) It took me three hours just to register him, and I speak the language. I can’t imagine trying to negotiate this in a second language, or without experience.

Product DetailsFive: Meanwhile, we’re still plodding away on all our reading.  We listened to The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup and a Spool of Thread (Kate DiCamillo) on the way to ski last week. It falls in the category of Good Books that Are Saving My Life Right Now.  Neither of the girls remembered it from the last time we read it.  The audiobook is fantastic; the story (and storytelling) are truly wonderful.

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Six: The children have played that digital piano into the ground.  Two notes are malfunctioning, so it sounds just like a broken hammer on an actual piano.  Owen still plays it three or four hours a day.

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Seven: We made it up to ski again, this time for an entire day. Phoebe did her first terrain park. I did not ski the box with them.

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Now they want to know when they can ski without me. Just because I wouldn’t ski the box! So rude.  Soon they’re going to be asking me to drop them at the gondola.

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SQT: home from the hospital

One:  Sam is home.  This is the important thing.  They sent us home Tuesday, less than twenty-four hours after they cut a seven centimeter incision into his abdomen. (TMI? At least there’s no photo.)  At last they glued it closed (and maybe used a few stitches under the skin) before they kicked him out.

Two: Consequently he has a new respect for all you women who have had C-sections and then had to care for babies afterward.  This is no joke.

Three: This leaves me to be the mean caregiver who is consequently yelling at him all the time to walk around and use his incentive spirometer, since we don’t have any nurses to do it for us.  Hopefully his pain medicine will keep him from remembering much of this.

Four: Now that he’s home, the children can stop worrying that he’s going to die and focus on complaining about how much math I assigned them.

Five: And fighting over who gets to put up which figure from the Advent calendar.  This is the one time of year I wish I had five children instead of four, because 25 divided by 4 has a remainder, so it is NEVER FAIR who gets to put Baby Jesus in the manger.  I have one child to whom fairness is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT. And who ALWAYS TALKS in CAPITAL LETTERS when THINGS ARE NOT FAIR.

Six: We are discovering that our friends are amazing cooks.  Especially of ice cream. My children have never had it so good.

Seven: Ack! I have to go! There are only 5 eggo waffles left, and who will get the fifth waffle?  IT’S NOT FAIR! (I am so glad to be home!)

Check out Kelly at This Ain’t the Lyceum for more Quick Takes!