Saturday, October 30, 2010

Halloween At Our House

Who's daughter is she??? We had our annual pumpkin carving yesterday, Todd has to work this weekend so we got started early. Chad has carved his own pumpkins for a few years now. This year, Alec did a lot on his own - he's so proud of himself. He actually wields a pocketknife with more confidence than his older brother but pumpkin carving is a new skill for him. Carmen wanted to assist more this year but first, I told her to change into a shirt she didn't mind getting dirty. Who knew what fireworks this would ignite? It took what seemed like half an hour and lots of whining (from her) and escalating irritation (from me) for her to find a shirt. Good gracious! I seriously don't know why she did that except that she's 9 and can be moody/stubborn/such a gem at times. So, after the wardrobe change, they set to work. Every year, for a long time now, the kids draw several pumpkin faces on paper and decide on one, eventually. Dad transfers their designs to the pumpkin and away they go. It's messy work so I am glad to relinquish this family time to Todd. I do the clean up. The kids find a place to display their art. We usually set them on our baby grand piano but one year, we left them on there a little too long - pianos and mushy pumpkins are not a good combination. Anyway, this year Alec and Carmen have fully decorated the piano for Halloween. For the last few years, they have made haunted houses out of cracker boxes and this year, the village is quite full. No room for pumpkins.

It's so fun that the kids have taken over the decorating. I didn't decorate for years, not wanting to emphasize the scary parts of Halloween. But now that they are older, I let them be creative - nothing bad just fun and a bit creepy. I especially like the mummy Alec made a few years ago. He drew a mummy image on construction paper (it's about 10" long), cut it out and painted with glow-in-the-dark paint. It gets taped up on a wall somewhere between the kitchen and dining room and when I turn off the lights to go to bed, there it is! There are some black paper spiders with glowing eyes as well. Much more fun for them to create than to hang up store-bought stuff. In fact, I've never, ever bought anything Halloween. It's all homemade. This year, they hung up black paper bats at the end of the kitchen. One bat is always swaying while the others remain still. We think it's picking up an air current from the refrigerator. A few years ago, they rigged up a spider to a pulley on one of the kitchen cabinet doors - I never did get fully used to it dropping down on me when I reached to get a plate! One year, they filled every empty corner in the house (it seemed) with spider webs made from cotton string (not that store-bought filmy stuff) complete with a black paper spider with red eyes. They really liked that. And we save nearly everything to reuse the following year. It's fun to see their artistry develop.

It's Alec and Carmen, my creative kids, that do all the decorating. It's not really Chad's thing. What he likes best about Halloween is that we always go out (or eat in) Chinese for dinner. Then the kids watch "The Great Pumpkin" video. And they get candy, of course. Then, the pumpkins are put on the bathroom counter and anyone who wants to, gets to take a bath by pumpkin light. I don't know if that will happen this year, with Todd having to work that night. We'll be going out to dinner, then he'll head off to the hospital. We'll do whatever the kids want to after that. I won't have to watch "The Nightmare Before Christmas", which is just fine by me. Too creepy for my tastes. We usually watch this on Halloween after the kids go to bed. Of course, after Todd reads this, he'll probably want to watch this on Monday night, after his work week is over. I can always cover my eyes at the really scary parts!

Happy Halloween!new <span class=

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Good Nurse

What a week! I've been playing nurse at home, with all three kids having colds since last Thursday. Todd has been working as a nurse, saving the lives of not one but two patients. Of course, he DOES work in the Critical Care unit of the hospital but he doesn't usually have two nights in a row with such hang-in-the-balance patients. One was a 17 y.o. who partied too much on alcohol and an over-the-counter drug - stupid, stupid, stupid! Why, oh, why do kids do this? It has sparked much discussion in our home, since my homeschooled kids do not usually hear about this kind of thing. Fortunately, we later heard that this kid has since recovered and is going into drug/alcohol rehab. Considering what bad shape the patient was in when Todd's shift ended (couldn't breath on their own), it is a miracle that this patient survived. Had Todd not been as quick thinking and skillful as he is, this patient would have died. God is good. When Todd goes to work, I pray several times during the evening for him and his patients. Praise the Lord for answered prayers. It's a shame that all of this could have been prevented if this young person hadn't abused their body and mind like that. So senseless.

The other critical patient Todd had on the following night was an older person who's blood pressure wouldn't stabilize, among other issues. Todd worked hard for hours, trying to keep this patient alive. They were ultimately flown by helicopter to a larger hospital 100 miles away but 20 minutes by air. Our local hospital can't handle the very serious patients - we are thankful for the helicopter service that makes it possible to receive care sooner than a 2-hour drive by ambulance. It's worth the membership fee. Poor Todd worked 2 hours overtime, making his last shift 14 hours.

It makes me so proud of my husband when I hear how he helps the people in our community. He (and I) feel that he is right where he's suppose to be. I am happy to pray for these people, I like to pray for others and I somehow feel that I'm supposed to give this kind of support - some of these people may not have anyone praying for them. When the 17 y.o. came in, all that was known about them was their first name. I cried when Todd told me about the situation. I prayed that there was family nearby that cared about this young person. Around here you never know. There is so much need, everywhere ... I tend to get overwhelmed. Todd and I were discussing how nurses can't be empathetic - they can only be sympathetic. I know I could never be a nurse. I feel others pain intensely. It's really awful, sometimes. But it's just me. I squirm when Todd talks about his night shifts but as a wife, I want to be available for him to discuss his work. Sometimes I cry. I am, however, learning how to let it go and not dwell on what I've heard. I'm just so glad when his work week ends - and I get to have him home for 3-4 days, straight. That's the payoff!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Braces and Boggle

Boy, I thought I was excited when I got my braces off earlier this year. But when I saw my son, Chad, with his upper braces off - I was SO thrilled! He has grown so much these last two years, his face has changed and matured since he first got his braces on. What a joy to see those upper teeth so straight. He has a great smile. It's all been worth it. He's been good about wearing the retainer - it helps that I'm wearing one, too. He's learning how not to lisp when he has it in. My husband still makes fun of me when I sound funny talking with my retainer in. I have learned how to whistle through it - such talent.

Chad will get his lower braces off in a few months. Alec will be next. We are waiting until he turns 13, which he will this January. I was shocked when I realized how soon that was. It doesn't seem right - Alec just can't be that old!

We are settling into our school week fairly well. Chad's math is going slightly better, his attitude has greatly improved. Alec and Carmen are using a math program that I am not too pleased with. Bummer. Math seems to be the subject we all barely tolerate in this house. Todd loves it - too bad his enthusiasm can't rub off on the rest of us!

Our first gnarly Northwest storm arrived today. Days of wind and rain. I like listening to it at night, sort of nice to fall asleep to.

This summer, after dinner, we spent a lot of time going for walks and playing Yahtzee. I think everyone is tired of those activities - I can't get the kids to play anymore (Todd will when he doesn't have to work). Our newest phase is Boggle. Carmen wants to play all night. The boys aren't too keen on this game (the boys in this house seem to prefer number games). But Carmen and I will play game after game. I love word games and she is enjoying learning new words. She asked if this game was educational - I asked her if she was learning anything. She answered her own question. We get out the dictionary for her to look up words, we talk about definitions and different spellings, we have fun. I love easy learning!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Our School Year Begins

Our plan was to begin school the first week of October. But the closer that time came, I found myself seriously procrastinating. It didn't help that September's weather was far closer to summer than at any other time this year. Who wants to miss out on sunny days? However, we did begin last Tuesday, slowly. On Monday, when I told Alec we would begin the following day, he wasn't at all pleased. I thought he'd be the one I'd have trouble with but, no, he was the first one up and hasn't had any difficulties all week. What a pleasant surprise. Carmen has been eagerly awaiting school time and though the first hour was difficult, she has enjoyed the week, being very proud of herself when she gets everything on her schedule accomplished.

My challenge has been Chad. He has grown considerably this year and become more independent. His brain, of course, has not grown as fast. He is finding it difficult to listen to instruction, along with his new and more difficult math. We are both finding our way, I think. After several lectures, I finally remembered to pray for his attitude. It's hard for me - one minute we are talking like friends and the next, I have to be his mother and then, I have to be his teacher. Sigh.

What I don't like, as I read my first paragraph up there, is how structured our school sounds. I really feel that learning should flow, not be boxed in but we do need some structure to our day. I do up a small schedule for each child every week as my kids like knowing what they have to do and like checking the boxes when they finish an assignment. There's nothing wrong with that until I read someone unschooling or Charlotte Mason-ing or whatever. But then, I must remember that our homeschool will look very different from anyone else's. We are such a mixed bag - perhaps I should avoid reading about different methods of homeschooling. I was in need of motivation this past few weeks and got out some of my homeschool books and magazines for inspiration. As long as I use these resources as a guide and don't let them confuse me. Here I am a veteran homeschooler - I need to remember my focus and rely on God for guidance.

But we have finished our first week. We have started slowly and I plan to add, adjust and rethink as we go. That is definitely a benefit to this lifestyle of learning - nothing is set in stone.