Friday, October 20, 2017

Hubby's Passionate About History

I had a really weird dream...

I took the kids to a place for a history class, since I'm not adept at that subject. The teacher was a middle aged portly man who simply read from the Story of the World curriculum in a monotone. During our time with him, he kept getting interrupted by people coming into the room and talking with him. He was being very disrespectful of our time. Then once class was done and we were packing up to go, he got into a conversation with another man in which he was loudly criticizing my family and our church. 

I exploded! 

I absolutely ripped into him for being so disrespectful of me and my children and criticize our religion! How dare he! He tried to yell over me and argue with me. 

I also screamed at him for being such a waste of time and money and a horrible history teacher. I declared that I would rather have my husband teach the kids in the evenings than bring them back to him. I emphasized, "My husband has real PASSION for history, unlike you! I have never seen someone with more PASSION than him!"

While that scenario is likely to never play out in real life, I can imagine my reaction would be just like that if it were. 😂

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Look for the Blessings in Trials

I own a small business out of my home kitchen. At the moment, it's not really big; basically it pays for Christmas for the kids. It's exciting to see the growth I've had from year to year, though.

Yesterday morning however, I had a crisis that had me feeling for a moment like maybe this venture has run it's course and it was time to throw in the towel.

I had an issue with one of my suppliers. I always feared this day would come, but didn't have a solid back up plan. Now I was absolutely panicking! I couldn't even think straight.

As Hubby is constantly reminding me, though, when there's a trial I have to focus on the blessings. There is always hope and Heavenly Father was right there. So instead of wallowing, I need to "look on the bright side." This is so hard for me to do! But here it goes...

1. I realized the issue early in the week, with plenty of time to find a solution before my event this weekend.
2. The kids are pretty independent and were able to do their schoolwork on their own while I focused on this crisis.
3. Hubby was home to talk me through solutions and plans. It was a bummer that he didn't have a job assignment to go to today, but Heavenly Father knew that I was going to need him at home!
4. I found a new local supplier that was able to take care of me today, with only a slight price increase over what I was getting.
5. My laptop is crappy and gives me "blue screen of death" often and at the most inopportune times. But today I was able to do plenty of Googling and such on it and it didn't shut down until right *after* I was done with it.

Proverbs 28:20 A faithful man shall abound with blessings.

Friday, October 13, 2017

When Grandma Met Grandpa

Recently when my grandmother (Shirley Thueson) was in the hospital, I tried to visit as much as I could. During one of my visits the hospital chaplain stopped by the room and struck up a lovely conversation with her about Grandpa Orel.

Grandma has been widowed for about 17 years and it was special to hear her talk about working with him in the drugstore they owned in Placerville (he was a pharmacist) and about how they met.

(I don't know or understand all the details and timeline. Perhaps I'll come back and edit this when I know more. But for now I really just wanted to get this in print before I forgot.)

Apparently my grandma's mom wanted to throw a party but there weren't very many people around. (This was wartime.) She tried inviting the men from the Air Corp in Santa Rosa but that was a no-go. And so she ended up inviting the military men who were POW camp guards in Windsor. My grandpa was one of those men. Apparently they were guarding German submariners. (Grandma commented that they were beautiful blonde haired, blue eyed men. Lol.)

The rest is history, as they say. Grandma met grandpa at the party and were later married. So it was my great grandmother who is responsible for them meeting. By the way grandma chuckled, and from what I seem to recall my mom telling me when I was little, I don't think great grandma was too happy about that. You see, my grandpa was a Mormon boy, so that didn't sit too well with her.  😂😍

I'm sure glad Great Grandma threw that party that night!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes (The Lazy Way)

Did you know that mini muffins from the bakery fit perfectly inside ice cream cones?

Last Sunday someone gave me 2 big unopened boxes of ice cream cones before church. Rather than run them out to my car, I just threw them with my bags under the table in my primary class. Of course when my students came in and noticed, they got excited and thought I brought treats. I promised I would bring them filled with something the next week because one of the boys was having a birthday.

But then a week went by and I didn't have time to bake ice cream cone cupcakes. When I was nursery leader (age 18 months to 3 years) I would always do ice cream cones filled with fruit loops for birthday treats. (Or gluten free cones with fruity pebbles when I had a gluten sensitive student.) It was colorful, different, and relatively cheap and easy. It was hilarious to watch the kids discover that their cup was edible. And it entertained me to no end when they would accidently spill their cereal, give a shocked face, then carefully put them all back in (bonus fine motor practice) and then accidentally dump it again. Then of course there were the kids who discovered there was a marshmallow under the cereal (to fill space) and so would immediately pour out their cereal so they could eat the marshmallow first.

I could have done that with this class (they're 5-turning 6) but it was easier to just pick up a dozen mini chocolate muffins. If I were to do it again for a party or some such, I would put a marshmallow or some candy under the muffin to fill space and be a yummy surprise.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Post #500

This is a fun milestone! I have published 500 posts. 500 times my thoughts were put out on the interwebs for public consumption.

I started this blog in 2011, when I began homeschooling Primus. Now here we are, 6 years, 499 posts, and 3 additional students later. In another 6 years my oldest will be finishing her high school experience and my baby will be in sixth grade! Eek!

I still love homeschooling and feel that it's the best plan for my family. And I'm so thankful for all my friends and family who have supported us over the years!

If you have questions about homeschooling, browse the blog and hopefully you can find what you need. Also feel free to ask me anything!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

In Memory of Mary Martineau Cooper

A while ago my former piano teacher, Mary Cooper passed away. She touched many lives and is missed.

I took piano lessons, along with a couple of my brothers, for a short while when I was maybe around 8. I didn't like it. Hated to practice. Eventually our teacher moved away so that was the end of that. When I was in 5th grade I was interested in learning piano again. Our school was also starting a band and I desperately wanted to join that, too. I remember my parents debating about whether I should do band OR piano. My mom won and I was allowed to do both.

I wanted to play the trombone but was told my arms were too short (of course they were! I think the band teacher just didn't want to teach any instruments other than flute, clarinet, sax, and trumpet.) So the clarinet was chosen (I think partially because my dad was a fan of Kenny G.) And about the same time, I began taking piano lessons from Sister Mary Cooper, who we went to church with.

I didn't keep up with the clarinet past 8th grade, but use my musical (and specifically piano) talents often. I am eternally grateful to my parents for encouraging and facilitating my musical education!

Sister Cooper was a joy to learn from! I will always remember her pink rose decor covering every inch of her sitting room. I loved arriving early or being picked up late because then I could sit on her couch and eat candy from her crystal candy dish while listening to her work with the next student.

In that room, near the couch, she had a comfortable chair. Sometimes she would put down her red pen, step away from her seat beside the piano bench, sit in that chair, close her eyes, and just listen. She wanted to hear her own private concert on a piece or two, through the ears of an audience member instead of a teacher.

When we began learning a song, she would write the date on the top of the page. When we passed it off, we would get to put a sticker on the corner of the page. It was so exciting to see what new, cute little stickers she had bought.

She had a drawer full of prizes. If we practiced at least 120 minutes per week, for 2 weeks, we could pick something out. They were always fun things from the Dollar store. Candy, cups with twisty straws, seasonal figurines, stationary sets, etc.

I remember when I first started lessons, she told my parents that her goal wasn't to teach her students to be piano robots who were programmed to play all the classics with perfection. We learned fun pieces, folksongs, and yes classics too. It was also important to her that we learn the hymns. This was perfect for me because I learned that I would much rather accompany singers (solo, small group, choir, or congregation) than be a soloist.

Even though we went over many of the hymns, for some reason I remember learning High on the Mountain Top with her. She also was passionate about teaching me Master, the Tempest is Raging. She loved that song! The movement and drama in it spoke to her soul! And now it is one of my favorite hymns to play on piano (if the singer/s are willing to sing with plenty of dynamics!)  She was our Ward organist and she would sometimes talk about loving to have the congregation sing the really upbeat, rousing songs. She wanted people to feel like marching in the aisles!

She was so patient with me! There were a couple times when she had given me a piece to learn and I was able to do them with adequate technical accuracy. But I just didn't "feel" the piece and so could not play with the emotion that she wanted. Week after week I disappointed her with my lack of progress. Finally she admitted that I just didn't like the song and therefore it just wasn't going to get any better. Then she crossed it off the list and we never revisited it again.

As I neared my Junior year of high school, Mary began saying that I had outgrown her. I never became the next Mozart or anything, but she expressed that she didn't have much more new things she could teach me.  I can't remember now the name of the piece or the composer, but she had given me one classical piece to learn that had a couple long and very fast runs. It was an extremely  difficult section! She was so pleased when her daughter was in town so that she could teach me the best way to learn and practice it.

In my Junior year, I decided to stop lessons. I was working a part time job, was Laurel President, and had several honors classes. I was so busy but it was still very hard to decide to give up my weekly chat with Sister Cooper. After I graduated high school, she convinced me to take some organ lessons from her. We would meet at the church early in the morning and she even arranged for me to have my own code to the building and key to the organ so I could get in and practice whenever I wanted. I'm so glad she insisted on that! I'm not a very good organ player, but I at least have basic knowledge and am able to accompany the singing in Sacrament Meeting twice a month. I'm grateful to her for that!

Sister Cooper was a wonderful woman outside of lessons, too. Actually, sometimes it seemed like half of my lesson time was taken up in her recounting her life story. 😉

She had a beautiful flower garden and I felt privileged to be trusted to water for her when she went out of town.

She spent many hours making beautiful handmade cards. She sent some of these as birthday cards to everyone at church.

She was so proud of her family and talked of them often. She loved her Sunday dinners with her grandchildren, served on beautiful dishes. She also had an exchange student son (from Scandinavia??) that she also talked about constantly and with such love.

Education was very important to her. At a time when it was uncommon for women to pursue higher education, she persevered and earned her Masters Degree. She was so proud of that accomplishment! She also taught music at her children's elementary school when they were young. She was always telling me how important it was to prioritize my college education, even after marriage and children came along.

As evidenced by her college education, she was a sharp woman! And as she got older, she often expressed fear that she would be passed over for callings and service opportunities in the church because people would assume she was old and incapable. She would say that her body may be slowing down but, "My mind still works!!"

Mary Cooper, you are missed! I cherish my memories of my time spent at the piano bench with you. As I teach my own children and nieces and nephews piano, I find myself thinking more and more about you and the way you taught. I'm sure right now you are playing the organ in Heaven getting all the angels in the Heavenly choir to sing Master the Tempest is Raging with gusto! Or perhaps they're singing How Firm a Foundation and you're trying not to giggle at the memory of the line in the pre-1985 hymnal that made it sound like you were singing, "Yoo-hoo unto Jesus."

The world is a brighter place because you were in it. ❤❤❤

Friday, September 29, 2017

Homeschooling Means...#29

...when a loved one is sick, Daddy takes care of the kids while Mommy spends a lot of time at the hospital. Meanwhile, the kids do a very abbreviated school load for a few days and Mommy feels no guilt about it whatsoever

(Ok, did I feel stress about what we didn't get done and worry about getting behind in our curriculum? Maybe. But I'm a nutcase who needs to be reminded about how I should be prioritizing my life. 😁 But no guilt.)

(This series is meant to be mostly lighthearted and fun.  Some may be serious, but most will be silly, braggy, or of the keepin'-it-real variety.  Not every homeschool is the same.  And some of these things could be said by public school parents.  This is just to highlight MY experience with MY homeschool and MY children.  Enjoy these little insights into our life and feel free to share your own "Homeschooling means..." in the comments!)

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Homeschooling Means...#28 impromptu history lesson about World War II propaganda at the dinner table on a Sunday.

Somehow "freedom fries," "liberty sandwiches," and "victory gardens" came up.  Then Hubby said something about propaganda, which prompted Primus to ask what that word meant.  She had heard it before but didn't understand.  Hence, the history lesson and discussion about what it is, what its purpose is, and what are the short and long-term effects to our country and culture.  

The kids already knew about Rosie the Riveter, and it blew their minds when we told them that Walt Disney and Dr. Seuss both made propaganda cartoons during the war years.  So of course we had to show them some.  

The first one I found is where Donald Duck has a nightmare about joining the Nazis.  The kids thought it was hilarious, especially when Donald is coerced to repeat "Heil Hitler" over and over again while assembling shells. They kept quoting Donald and singing "Der Fuehrer's Face." 

We had to have a serious discussion before I let them rewatch it. While it's hilarious when you understand the context and nature of the cartoon, they are not allowed to repeat any of it outside of our home. Because the world is crazier than usual right now and could you imagine the outrage and problems it might cause??

We also watched this one where "Commando Duck" is tasked with wiping out the enemy Japanese camp. There are some VERY racist things about the Japanese in this one! Wow!  We discussed what was going on, why they were being characterized like that, how absolutely ridiculous and offensive it was, and what the goal of this propaganda piece was.

Especially with Hubby being such a history fanatic, we believe strongly in our house that we must learn from the past in order to prevent it from happening in the future.  We don't want to put our kids in a bubble and hide the ugly things of the past from them.  We want them to see how much better things are in the present and then continue to improve things for the future.

(This series is meant to be mostly lighthearted and fun.  Some may be serious, but most will be silly, braggy, or of the keepin'-it-real variety.  Not every homeschool is the same.  And some of these things could be said by public school parents.  This is just to highlight MY experience with MY homeschool and MY children.  Enjoy these little insights into our life and feel free to share your own "Homeschooling means..." in the comments!)

Friday, September 22, 2017

When the Library Fines You For a Book You Already Returned...

Pro-tip for you today: if the library says you haven't returned a book (but you're pretty sure you have) and you've turned the house upside down and still haven't found it...then go and see if it's in the library sitting on a shelf! 

We go to the library at least once a week and check out a lot of books. There were three that we had used for school last year (one for science and two for history) that I was pretty sure had gotten returned before the end of the school year. But they were still on my account.

I just kept renewing them and hoping that they would turn up under a pile of blankets or something. But one of the books was renewed so many times and was so late that they just billed me for the full cost of the book! That was finally the kick in the butt I needed to do some more digging.

I went to the three libraries that we frequent, because I have no idea which one I would have returned it to, and checked their shelves. I had even written down the bar-codes so I could make sure I wasn't just finding a duplicate copy instead of the one I checked out.

At the last library I found all three of my overdue books in the exact place you would have expected them to be reshelved after being checked in. Except apparently they didn't actually get scanned in before being put away!

Thankfully the librarian was very understanding and apologetic and removed all fines from my account.  I've been taking my kids to the public library on a weekly basis for the past 10 years and this is not the first time this has happened to us.  It's so frustrating.  I think from now on I'm going to try and return books at the same location every time.  Hopefully that will make the search and resolution easier the next time it (hopefully doesn't) happen.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Boy Felt a Need to Destroy

After finding a cardboard box and asking if they could have it, the boys grabbed their plastic tools. As they sawed off a flap and hammered golf tees into a side, it appeared they wanted to simply play with toys and practice being men. It was pretty cute.

But soon they were ripping the box with their hands and hammering seemingly indiscriminately with all their might. I asked what they were doing and Tertius responded matter of factly, "Just destroying this part and this part." "Why?" "None of your business." I don't think he was trying to be rude; he just simply did not have an actual goal that he could put into words for me.

They finally got the box all the way open and pounded it some more with their hammers until it lay flat. Quartus declared that it was a mattress but Tertius tried to vaguely explain that now they could add more pieces of cardboard to it and then make things with it. (Then he taped the flaps back on and patched the holes with tape.) 

These boys crack me up. It's so fun to watch them and try to figure out how their minds work. I guess I'm pretty lucky that Tertius channels his need to destroy things into a cardboard box instead of dumping flour, drawing on walls, or breaking things that matter!

Friday, September 15, 2017

A Peek at My 2017 Homeschool Planner

I do love doing some of our school planning and record keeping digitally.  But nothing will ever replace a physical plan book that I can hold in my hand, flip through, and make handwritten notes.

This year I bought myself a nice spiral notebook and added a few tabs with masking tape for quick reference.

The first thing I see when I open it up is our weekly routine.  I also have a copy of this hanging on the wall for the kids to be able to reference.  

The next page has a copy of the school calendar that our charter requires us to follow, along with a list of all the holidays we are supposed to take.  As I've said before, I like to do schoolwork as normal on most of our scheduled holidays so then we can take a day off whenever we need to, guilt free.  I keep track of those changes here.

The two pages after that is where I have all the curriculum we're going to use for the year.

Next is all my planning for our history curriculum, Story of the World.

After that, I have a few pages that list every non-fiction children's book we own.  Typing all this up was a new project I did this summer. When Hubby saw me stapling this and the following in my plan book, he remarked that organizing is obviously my hobby.

After the non-fiction books, I have cataloged all of the chapter books we own.  This has been helpful to make sure I don't accidentally acquire a double of a book we already have.  I have them all organized according to reading level (as determined by Scholastic's Book Wizard.)

Also included is a page where I can keep track of the testing the kids will do.  The packets I use for oral reading tests are clipped to the back cover.

Next is an inventory of all the literature guides we own.  This was useful at the beginning of the summer when I was deciding on which curriculum to use.  I also expect to be able to us this same notebook next school year and so it will be nice to have this at hand again.

One thing I really like about this notebook is that it has this movable and two-sided pocket to hold any loose items.

Finally, there are plenty of blank lined pages where I can record our learning and accomplishments on a weekly basis.

So there you have it! What does your homeschool planning and record keeping look like?

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Great Purge

In our house, I am the one who normally handles all organization and other things that generally keep the household running smoothly.   And while it feels good to get rid of stuff and the minimalist lifestyle sounds a little appealing, I tend to be a hoarder. It's often really hard for me to let things go if they're still useful and if I think I may need it one day.

Our kitchen is really small with not enough cupboard space. The kids' plastic dishware was out of control. Hubby finally put his foot down and insisted that we needed to get rid of most of it.  He was not blind to the overcrowded cupboard of cups, overflowing box of plates and bowls, or counter piled high with dirty dishes.

When we were blessed with a kid-free couple of days, he washed everything and then we sat down and made some hard decisions. The above box is everything we got rid of.

 And this box is everything we kept. The kids weren't too pleased that some of the stuff disappeared. But I think we'll all live.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Snack Cupboard Update

A long time ago I shared what our snack organization looked like.  I recently reorganized.

Before, we had cardboard boxes in this cubby space to hold snacks. Boxes rip and so a more durable solution was needed. It's a weird size hole and I couldn't find anything that would fit and work the way I wanted.

But then I realized that these drawers that were being used for storage in the school room would work really well! Sadly, it appears the company does not make this precise size anymore so I had to shuffle things around so I could use them here.

I still use a hodge podge of random little containers to hold individual portions of snacks. When the kids empty a container, they just throw it back in the drawer.

When the drawers are getting full of empty containers, then I take them out and restock. It's hard to see because the picture is so dark below, but there is plenty of storage space behind the drawers.

This is where I can store pre-filled containers and boxes of granola bars that aren't needed yet. This is my favorite part because if the kids run out of snacks in the drawers and I don't have time to refill them, then it's no big deal because I have a bunch already ready and waiting.

How do you do snack time?

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Call the Midwife

Perhaps my favorite episode of Call the Midwife is season 4, "episode 8."


This is the episode where a pregnant woman with hyperemesis gravidarum is treated with Thalidomide.  Given that I had HG with 3 of my 4, it really hit home.  And at the end of the episode when the "miracle" drug is revealed, my heart sank and I felt awful dread because I knew what would be coming in future episodes.

This is also the episode where Trixie hits rock bottom and begins attending AA.  Addiction recovery is close to my heart so I found her scenes moving and beautifully deep.  She is such a fascinating character and I love to see her development.

Finally, this is also the episode where Sister Monica Joan introduced me to the word "transmogrify."  I need to find a way to work this into my regular vocabulary.  :)

I just love this show and can't wait for season 6 to come to Netflix!

Friday, September 1, 2017

Marriage Counseling

Many years ago we hit a low point in our marriage.  We saw an LDS Family Services counselor a few times.  Hubby really didn't like her and didn't see the value in seeing her.  So finally one day, minutes before our appointment, he refused to go see her anymore.  So I went alone.

That was the last time either one of us saw her.

She basically told me, "Why are you still married to him?" and as good as told me I was justified in divorce.  I was confused and sad and in despair, and then horrified.  When I came home in tears, Hubby wrapped me in his arms and said, "I'm so sorry!  I knew I shouldn't have let you go."

Our problems didn't justify divorce!  Though we both had faults and were currently struggling, we were both committed to keeping our marriage eternal.

Perhaps she was trying to shock me into action or use reverse psychology.  If that was her goal, then I suppose it worked.  But all the same, we were angry and hated her!

Thankfully, over the months and years after that awful appointment we were able to heal, forgive, and strengthen our relationship.  (Perhaps the biggest thing that helped us was the progress I made in my own relationship with my Heavenly Father with the help of the 12 Steps and my support group.)

So why do I share this?  I suppose the lesson here is, if you don't "click" with a therapist, find a new one!

You should also look for other ways to find the help you need.  We have been blessed by the support of a different therapist, Bishops, a Visiting Teacher, the aforementioned support group, and dear friends. But above all, we can attribute the current success of our marriage to the fact that each of us made a choice to improve ourselves and our situation.  We were able to change with the help and guidance of our loving Heavenly Father and the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  To them, I am eternally grateful.

For more information about where and how to find the right support for you and your situation, the following link is wonderful.

Spouse and Family Support Guide, chapter 6, "Thy Friends Do Stand By Thee"