Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Guest Post: A Great Lesson

Hubby wrote this today on our Homeschool Blog:

Today, it was snowing and blowing hard. Teacher [K] had four of her students bail on her, even though she was teaching at her parents' house, which isn't as far out of town. We were the only ones to show up.

[Curly] has been working on Gavotte, the last song in book one. It has a lot of "firsts" in it. The first ever sixteenth notes, first ever D.C. al Fine form, first ever song with a "C" section, first song with multiple accidentals in the same measure, first song with pizzicato notes, and first song with leaps greater than an octave.

She's been smoking it too. I was really proud of how she worked through the hard sixteenth-note run section a couple nights ago. I didn't have to prod her at all. She, drawing completely on her own determination, played the passage about 20 times until she got it right. She even chased me away when I tried to help her. I had played it for her on the piano and she knew the recording so she knew EXACTLY what it was supposed to sound like. She just had to figure out how to reproduce it and she knew she could. This is where some of that stubbornness and perfectionism can really be exerted for good. And it was! After those grueling, self-motivated 10 minutes, she had it figured out. Since then, she's played it right every time. The same goes for some other passages.

Anyway, back to the lesson. I was so proud of her again! She stood up straight. She answered all of teacher [K]'s questions right away. She knew all the answers about what was stacatto and where the circle bows were and what fingering to use here and there and so on and so forth. She never tried to sit down and goof around and tap her bow on things. They ironed out the finer points of the tune for 1/2 hour and the time flew by. She was so good. She didn't even get distracted when their neurotic cat pounced on me and yowled.

After countless rough, rough practices and many frustrating lessons, it was so nice to have such an encouraging time of violin. I've really wanted to throw in the towel several times but what I saw today gives me hope. I'm sure there will be plenty of hard work and bad attitudes (hers AND mine!) ahead, but it is really nice to know that there is the potential for wonderful times as well.


As an aside, Teacher K once asked Curly about learning to play when she is distracted, as she would be in a performance. From my place on the sofa, I burst out laughing, thinking of what actually goes on at our house during practice time. If Curly can continue practicing every. single. day. while her baby brother does things like banging on the piano or trying his best to pull her pants off, yes, she can play through distraction.

Can't say I haven't been warned!

I posted not too long ago that I was feeling a bit of an "ouch" and also that people have been warning us with tons of adoption horror stories. Recently I vented on the adoption forum at MDC that I was tired of all the negativity.

One of the posters had this to say:

Oh boy - I feel that. I'm sorry people can't just be happy for you. Congrats on the new addition. Let me just warn you about your new child.... she's going to steal your heart like no one has, you are going to be amazed at your capacity for love, you are going to have to suffer the joy of seeing the world through the eyes of a child, you are going to cry like you've never cried before when you see your child asleep, safe in their bed, and you'll celebrate the most ridiculous milestones (like writing their name for the first time). Sorry I had to be the one to warn you but I felt it was my duty - as one adoptive mother to another. :P

I laughed when I read this, then my eyes got misty. How wonderful the support from other parents who have "been there, done that" when I am taking the road less traveled by? What would I do without the little gems dropped along my path that remind me everything really is going to be okay!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

(Not) My Favorite

I realized in reading back over the last post that Little Mister did not even get a mention. Then I realized it was because my last post was mostly about Mayhem and Chaos, respectively. There, sitting in the middle between the two is Mellow. Whiny, occasionally, but usually Mellow. Chill. Predictable.

I don't have favorites among my children. I love them all dearly. I really, truly don't have favorites. But very, very often, I thank God for Mellow.

Somehow it all gets done anyway.

The kids and I had a happy afternoon of sledding, then this evening we set out to decorate for Christmas. As usual I sustained idealistic fantasies about my angelic children, delightedly decorating the tree, of soft Christmas music playing in the background, of the smell of spiced cider and peppermint.

The first thing that happened was that Curly went to Time-Out. My eldest child has always taken my ideal and forcefully reminded me that parenting is messy, unpredictable, delightful and overwhelming. She never behaves as I fondly expect but instead goes so berserk at whatever she is doing that she winds up in trouble. Someday when she is a little more mature her habit of living at 150% will stand her in good stead, but as a child it just gives her mother gray hair.

Five minutes later she came back, amazingly in a much more cooperative mood.  Instead of hogging all the ornaments and bossing her brothers, she suddenly remembered she could share. I had to laugh at her... the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

The kids had been so eager to begin, they put a bunch of ornaments on, then had to take them right back off again so Daddy could put the lights on.  Daddy had put on his favorite radio show, "The Thistle and Shamrock" so the house filled with Celtic music rather than Christmas.  I pretended not to care that the house smelled like tacos, and that every single ornament was getting piled onto the front 1/3 of the tree. I can't say I've entirely overcome my orderly tendencies of wanting to do things "just right" but I am improving.

Meanwhile The Bean wandered around the house, grabbing stray ornaments, unplugging lights, yelling and attempting to knock over the tree.  Finally I confined him to his booster chair, where he hollered and protested not being able to cause mayhem.

"Let me down!  I want to help decorate the tree too!"  Each of us tried to console him by kissing him on his curly head as we walked by.

I got out a new/old Nativity set someone gave me ages ago.  Carved out of wood, I like it because the characters in the set are not white, but they have a sort of African feel. 

Last year Mom gave the kids a Nativity that's sturdy enough to be handled.  With delight they played with this set and left off playing with the delicate wooden one.

At last we got all the lights working.  We have our new, clean rug and the tree has ornaments on it, set high on a desk away from The Bean's marauding fingers.  I hung a sixth stocking for our little girl, still over in Africa.  Next Christmas she will be with us, God willing, and I will paint her name on her stocking. 

And we'll likely have even more delightful mayhem.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


The below-zero temperatures of the last several days along with the three-day disappearance of Cinnamon made me fear the worst. Little Mister in particular picked up my anxiety and asked me several times a day where Cinnamon was and if she was safe, if she would come back, if she was cold.

I did not have an answer for him.

Then this evening as we sat around the table eating Thanksgiving dinner, we heard a noise on the front porch. Hubby investigated, peering out into the snowy dark. He opened the door and TWO cats bounded into the warm living room. There she was, seemingly no worse for wear.

We rejoiced and gave her all the chicken skin from the Thanksgiving chicken we were eating. Little Mister and I gave one another a happy grin.

Thanksgiving Feet

Making Aebelskivers for Thanksgiving brunch.
Listening to music.
A day off from work.
Sleeping in.

Helping Daddy.
Counting Aebelskivers.
Eats syrup.
Wants to go out in the snow and go sledding.

Slicing butter.
Feeding bites to baby.
Wants to do everything herself.

Taking pictures.
Eggnog Latte.
Wrapped in love.
Full of eggs and sausage.
Not lonely today.

Wants to be big.
Likes tater tots best.
Drops bites for the kitty.
Says "more" in baby sign.
Thousands of smiles.

Happy Thanksgiving!!
May you be surrounded by family and wrapped in love.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


The last two days have given us nor'westerners unseasonably cold temperatures and lots of snow.  Usually we don't see single digits until January and then rarely.  Last night it was below zero and the thermometer today clawed its way up to 3 Fahrenheit and stayed there.

Little Mister begged to go outside to play in the snow, but Curly, who gets cold easily, refused to join him, so he reluctantly removed his snow pants again. He didn't think it sounded fun to go out alone. I don't blame him.

One of our cats, Cinnamon has gone missing with the cold. I haven't seen her for two days. With the memory of lost cats two years ago, I fear the worst, but good sense tells me that she's around somewhere, waiting out the cold, or possibly trapped somewhere by snow that froze solid over a hidey-hole doorway. I hope she makes it though, my little shy, sweet kitty.

Thankfully, Dad came up Monday with a part for our pellet stove so it's been working splendidly. We would be really miserable if it was still broken. As it is we're just right and playing "inside games" as we wait for the freezing spell to go back up to Alaska where it belongs.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


For years it's been my dream to become certified with the Library of Congress in literary braille transcription. To get this certificate means I could get a job transcribing books into braille, and it means I'm an "expert" in the most-used Grade 2 standard braille.

There are other forms of braille that take additional training, like the textbook style formatting, math braille (called Nemeth code) and braille music. I'd love to go on to study those, but for now I'm thrilled with my first milestone.

Unfortunately my schedule is so packed out right now I won't be looking for transcription jobs in the near future. I hope to stay sharp by continuing to read braille on my own and to transcribe stuff here and there to retain the skills.

I hope someday to also qualify to teach braille.

For now, I have passed a really tough correspondence course with a decent score (81 out of 100 points) and I get my certificate from the Library of Congress next week, a dream I have had for at least ten years. It feels good. :)


What in world is an Aebelskiver? Well, it's a little Danish pancake ball. Hubby is Danish and he loves making interesting "bready things" as he calls them. So I got him an aebelskiver pan for Christmas. And because I cannot wait I went ahead and gave it to him. (I don't know if I have ever saved a gift clear till Christmas Day.) He was thrilled and we had a grand experimental aebelskiver-making party last night.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Curly's haircut

I have not cut the back of Curly's hair since she was born. It had grown down to her waist, beautiful and curly, but the ends had become so broken it was nearly impossible to brush.



We were both a little sad, but after a week of easy brushing, we both agree it was the right thing to do. Also, it has pulled up into some natural curl again and it looks so darling with the layers I put into it, she has gotten a lot of compliments.

First Snow

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Snapshot: Taking Turns

The iPod has been the entertainment of choice lately and the other night I found the two older kids thus, tangled up on the sofa, one playing games and the other waiting for it to be his turn.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Merry Early Christmas to Me!

I rarely do this: I splurged. Yes, frugal me, I really did it. I bought myself an early Christmas present and I LOVE it!

It's a case for my new iPod Touch 4 (the merits of which deserve a blog post all their own). The fine folks at the Pad and Quill make these nifty little cases to look like Moleskine Notebooks.

Because I happened to order mine between batches, I think, it took forever to come, but I did get a nice personal email from the company owner (it looks like a small family/friend operation) and a bit of a refund. AND it was totally worth the wait!

It's really high quality, sturdy and just gawdjus! The wooden sides hold my iPod just right and it has slots and holes in all the right places, including one for the camera. The kids love it too and they've already gotten their sticky little paws all over it.

I'm pretty excited to tote this thing around. I've always loved the look of Moleskines and I use the new iPod constantly, so they're a perfect match. :)

Back to Pioneer Days... with a twist

The power went out Tuesday for most of the day. We'd had a giant storm the night before, felling trees and power poles all over our area.

Left without electricity for most of the day, I felt as though our little house was whisked by the giant windstorm, not to Oz, but to Little House on the Prairie.

The first thing we did was to build a roaring fire in the fireplace.  Little Mister, who had to get over his shock and dismay at having his preschool canceled, sat toasting his toes and playing games on my iPod.  If Laura Ingalls had been able to play games on an iPod, I'm sure those long winter days on the Prairie would have been much more tolerable.

Baby Bear, who gets called the Bean more often than not, showed his disgust at the fact that his milk was cold by playing with it rather than drinking it.  Finally in desperation I heated some milk in a cast-iron pan on the fire.  He grudgingly drank a little, after which the power came back on.

Our yard was covered with tree branches.  Curly and I went out and gathered quite a few of the smaller ones and made a wreath to hang on the front door.  Hubby commented dryly that we were certainly making the best of the situation.

Although the lights were dark...

...the storm had ended and the sun came out, filling the house with light.  We had fun in spite of the disrupt in our normal day.

Eventually The Bean tormented Little Mister too much so we got out the big play yard fence and created a safe area around the fire.

And the kids sat basking near the fire and playing spelling and math games, timing themselves for ten minutes each with the timer.  When we power did come back on, we were still without internet for an additional day.  At last by today we've rejoined the 21st Century and we're all quite glad!