Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Swimming Lessons

This is Sam's first year of official Red Cross swimming lessons at our local Rec Center.

Ready to go!

Blowing Bubbles

Talking with Dave, his teacher

These pictures were taken last fall (my camera still isn't here, so that's why the older photos).  Sam's class back then was really small.  His current class has about a dozen young kids in it!  Dave is a great swim teacher and I trust him completely (he's taught all of my kids now), but he still only has one set of eyes.  So...Jeffrey has started helping with Sam's class!  Now, he's not old enough to be a full-fledged lifeguard.  He's only 13.  Our Rec Center offers a "Lifeguard Readiness" class for strong swimmers who aren't old enough to take the actual Lifeguarding Training Course.  He's taken that a few times, so Dave was glad to have him help.  I overheard some of the other parents comment about how they felt so much better having another person in the pool.  I smiled and said, "That's my son."  

I'm a proud mama.  

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Ice Skating

Even though we live in a small town, we are blessed with an indoor ice rink.  (Hockey is big here.)  And I'm so glad, because I'm not a winter person.  I love to ice skate.  But outside?  That's ridiculous!

Anyway, Lydia & I went skating tonight for the second Sunday in a row.  I think the only other time she'd ever been skating was when she was about four years old and I ended up pushing her around on a chair because she got so frustrated.  (They make it look so easy on TV, you know?)

This time around, she's had such a great attitude, telling herself things like, "You can do this, Lydia!" in a cheerful way.  She'd take a deep breath, exhale, and then push off for another go.  She fell a couple of times, but then brushed herself off and kept going.  "Mom, I have to persevere."  She makes me smile.  (Lydia's public school teacher last year was really great about teaching character as well as academics.  Perseverance was highly encouraged.)

Along with this great attitude, Lydia's been making great progress.  Last week she started with using an ice skating walker and, after about 45 minutes, graduated to holding my hand.  Tonight, she started with the walker, moved quickly to just holding my hand, and then she went a few times around the rink without either!  She had to grab the wall now and then, but she really did well.  After last Sunday's skate, I wasn't sore or the least bit tired.  With Lydia speeding things up a bit  tonight, I can't wait to go to bed, and I'm sure I'll be feelin' it tomorrow.

(Sorry I don't have any pictures for you.  I left my camera at my sister's house over Christmas, and she just mailed it on Friday.  I'll get some skating pic's next time.)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Teaching Old Fingers New Tricks

This week I could not make my fingers work on the piano.  I was making some vocal videos for the homeschool musical, and it was like I had all thumbs.  Even the song that was in the key of C (no black keys) was giving me trouble.  Grrrrr!

Don Music expresses my feelings perfectly at 0:50.

I want to be a better pianist with every fiber of my being.  It would sure make helping out with the musical a lot easier, but I'd also love to be able to accompany for camp or church--either for congregational singing, or to play while I sing.  Moreover, I simply enjoy playing piano (when I'm not all thumbs).

I sort of blame my mother for my lack of piano skills.  

***flashback harp music***

One fall, my sister and I desperately wanted to take piano lessons, but we didn't have a piano in the house.  It was coming up on Christmas time, and we suggested to our parents that maybe we could get a piano as a family gift that year.  When Mom took Melody and me to Schmidt Music Center (the big music store attached to the warehouse--so you can get almost anything you want right away), we were downright giddy.  Mel and I were plinking around on the different pianos on display.  There were so many.  The baby grand was so black and shiny, but we'd be happy with an upright, of course.  Well...I'm not sure how it happened, but we went home with an organ.  An organ?!  We didn't want to learn how to play the organ.  And sure, pianos and organs look similar, but they are played very differently.  So, for years that organ sat in the corner of our living room.  We goofed around on it from time to time, but we used the tape player (built into the organ, for some reason) more than the organ itself.  

***back-to-the-now harp music***

I'm still not completely sure why my mom bought an organ back then.  I think it was something she had always wanted to learn to play, but she never had time to take lessons after she bought the organ.  (She had five young kids and worked part-time as a nurse.)  A few years ago, she bought a newer organ with all kinds of fancy gizmos and gadgets on it.  She's been taking lessons now that all of us kids are grown up.  (She bought a nice RV this summer, and the main stipulation for it was that she'd have to be able to fit her organ inside.)  So, I'm happy for her, that she's finally been able to enjoy playing like she's always wanted to.  It just makes me sad to think that we could've had a piano in the corner of the living room all of those years.  Think how good I'd be by now!

Now, I can't really blame my mother for my lack of piano skills.  I've had years now with a piano in close proximity.  I can only blame myself.  

I decided to amend Resolution #4 to give priority to piano right now and work more on violin and ukulele when the musical is over (beginning of May).  Today I played piano for fun, as opposed to doing it because I had to for the musical.  And it was fun!  I noticed that I'm going to be done with Lesson Book 2 soon, so I went on Amazon and ordered Lesson Book 3 and a music theory book (and the next phonics book for Samuel).  So, I guess these old fingers are learning new tricks.  It just didn't feel like it last night.  

Friday, January 10, 2014


This was our conversation as I was tucking Lydia & Samuel in bed.

Samuel: Is it my turn for a snuggle yet?

Me: Not yet.  Ten more minutes.


Samuel: What time is it now?

Me: Seven more minutes, buddy.


Samuel: Now?

Me: Three more, honey.


Samuel: What time is it now?

Lydia: Time for you to get a watch!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014


Just a quick little update on our rough couple of homeschooling days....

With the assistance of Khan Academy videos on Mitosis, Meiosis, and Diploid/Haploid Cells, plus the help from a lovely homeschooling mom who blogs her science stuff (found here) , we have conquered module 7 in the Apologia Biology book!  We were confusing "homologous pairs" with "sister chromatids".  I know!  It's all so clear now!

I didn't know it was possible to feel such relief and like my brain is going to explode at the same time.

Someday, I'm going to be a contestant on Jeopardy and win a ton of money to make up for all of this.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

It's a Wonderful (Homeschool) Life

I had one of those days today.  It wasn't simply a day when things went wrong--although that did happen.  Today was the first day I honestly wondered if I can handle homeschooling high school.  The older two kids do a lot of school work on their own, but they can't do much of that with French, and Biology has gotten kind of tough lately.  (Guess which two subjects had tests today?)  And, as opportunity cost goes, the more time I need to spend working with Emma and Jeffrey, the less time I have to teach Lydia and Samuel.  We're all a little bit behind.

The homeschool musical with which I'm helping is turning out to be beyond my abilities.  Well, it's more time-consuming than I thought it'd be anyway, and it's starting to become less fun and more of I've-got-to-get-this-done.  Don't misunderstand me though.  I love working with the kids.  They're so creative and talented and just plain fun.  I love them.  And I love the ladies I work with too.  We make a good team.  The way this musical is set up really seems to highlight everything I can't do well.  I don't mind learning more and practicing more, but again, opportunity cost.  

Today I really needed to have my own Clarence come and show me how awful and empty our lives would be if we hadn't been homeschooling all this time.  Maybe he would have shown me that the relationships I have with my children wouldn't be as close and sweet as they are now.  Perhaps the world would have squeezed them into its mold more definitively.  And it could be they would struggle as much academically in the school scenario as they do at home with me.

It's hard to see you're doing the right thing when everything seems to be going wrong.