Saturday, July 28, 2012

Uh oh...Now What?

Well, this morning I thought I'd be nice and make pancakes for breakfast. When I told the kids, they were ecstatic. Then I realized, as I was mixing up the dry ingredients, that I had run out of baking powder. I'm still no expert, but my guess is that leaving out the baking powder would decrease the "cake" part of pancakes significantly. So I Google "out of baking powder" and found several links explaining that you may substitute two parts cream of tartar and one part baking soda. The caution with this substitution is that you must use it immediately, because the chemical reaction when added to the wet ingredients is temporary. This matters little if you are baking or preparing right away, but you wouldn't want to save left over batter or prepare ahead. Anyway, we had vanilla oatmeal pancakes and they were so thick and fluffy, I may use the "home made" baking powder from now on, at least in pancake batter. I haven't baked anything with it yet, so that will be my next experiment. Tune in next time for more "uh oh" quick fixes!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Men, Don't Read Further

No, that was not a ploy to get you guys to read this post. It was a warning that I'm about to get real with all my ladies out there who may relate. So, do yourself a favor and go look at ESPN or something and leave us girls to talk, or else you'll ruin the illusion that your wives are just effortlessly beautiful and good at their roles as wives/mothers naturally and everything goes smoothly when you aren't looking.
Anyway, we are on day four of our new, trial schedule. It has gone pretty well so far, except for our evenings, which we are going to have to iron out a little more. So, on day three, I was feeling like a champ and by 9, the older kids had gone out for a brief bit of fresh air. Ella fell asleep for her usual mid-day nap and I thought, "Yes, maybe twenty minutes!" I told the kids to keep it down since she was asleep and I jumped in the shower. Oh to have a moment to shower without a)someone flushing the toilet, b)a three year old barging in c)a baby fussing at me to hurry... It was so exciting! Also, very daring, since I rarely get me time when the sun is up.  
So, I turn on the hottest shower I can stand. I get out my Dead Sea mineral mask and slather all over my face and neck. I lather up my hair and leave the shampoo on, just because it feels good to take my time. I lather up and shave one leg, without even cutting myself. I lather the other leg and then it happened...the first whimper. I froze, almost as if caught in the act of eating ice cream out of the container. Then, when there was silence, I went about trying to shave again, for at least 10 more seconds. Barely finished, this time with a few nicks and here came the siren: that sad whaling from the baby monitor that says, "I'm awake for real this time. I'm not going to go back to sleep, no matter how much you hope, so get in here before I start in with the real hysterics!" Ugh! I love ya, kid, but I'm still covered in mud mask and shampoo! Needless to say, my anticipated twenty minutes was a mere twelve.  It was a miracle that I got all the mud off and didn't end up scaring little girl when I picked her up, still shower fresh and hair in a towel. 
I hope this story does not offend anyone's sense of propriety, but I figured it might make someone laugh. I had to laugh at my own optimism. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Homeschool: Day One

Ok, we're not actually doing any school work today. This is just the first day trying out our routine. I woke the kids at 7. They got dressed, straightened rooms and made beds. If they had time left over, they read their Bibles while waiting for breakfast at 7:30. After breakfast, we had a quick devotion, then I allowed an hour for chores. We kept the TV off all morning, which was so nice. I wanted to give us a couple of weeks to get into this habit, that way we could start our school day at 9am. I am so excited by the prospect of our new found freedom outside of the traditional school day, which took up 8 hours. Of course, this is our first year, so we are keeping our minds open, trying to keep our expectations realistic.
My main goal, other than to meet the educational needs of each of my kids individually, is to make this school year completely different from our experiences in the past. It seems like, since my children first started school, our afternoons have been hectic, stressful and less productive than we'd have liked. Every day we had 5 hours from 3pm to bed time, but it never felt like enough. I always fought for balance between allowing the kids a chance to decompress from 8 hours of school, without losing them to the afternoon slump. Snack, homework, chores, dinner, bath, bedtime...oh, and did we leave out some not-so-quality family time? I struggled to enforce chores and homework at times, because frankly, my heart wasn't in it. It didn't help that the school my kids were in didn't have any accountability for homework. They stopped buying text books so the kids only had worksheets and busy work sent home. As far I could tell after 3 years, no one noticed if the kids completed their homework and no one cared if their handwriting was legible. The main focus the school had was studying for the annual standardized tests. They spent months in advance working on how to fill in the circles, how to solve multiple choice questions, etc. not to further my children's education, but to reach a certain standard in test scores for the state.
Needless to say, I am looking forward to much nicer evenings, where I can go back to enjoying the act of cooking dinner, without feeling like a task master the whole time. I can't wait to do some actual school work,  utilize our time on the fundamentals, then walk away from it for the afternoon and go to the grocery store, the park, the library or wherever we want without feeling like there is something else we should be doing. So, I'm counting today as day one, and so far, it's really great to look at the clock, see it is almost 3pm, and not have a feeling of dread!