easing back into life

Jan 6, 2016 by

Recovering from late nights, too much junk food, and lack of commitments.

New scripture study time. (In the morning at the butt-crack of dawn. Actually long before the butt-crack of dawn since it is pitch black outside when Richard gently kisses me and shakes me awake so I can pull on my fleece sweats and slippers and plod out to the family room.)

New schedules.

New goals.

Registration for iFamily was this week and I had to break some children’s hearts because I can’t take more than 16 students in my Math Alive class and nearly 30 applied. I hate breaking hearts.

Homeschool days on the ski/snowboarding slopes is here once again and for the first time since 2008, I am trying my darndest to make it happen for my kids. Long, frustrating story there about how hard I have been trying to magically find all the gear they need for as few pennies as possible and piles of tears that poured out of me when I couldn’t find what they needed at prices we could afford. My heart and their hearts were so set on going this week, but I just couldn’t make it happen. So I fell apart, telling myself all the lies. Something akin to “for crying out loud we live right next to the mountains and have an awesome homeschool program that allows kids to ski or board for hours and hours for $10 and you KNOW this, so what is wrong with you (me) that you didn’t plan ahead and get all this stuff in the summer when it was available or look in Utah or SOMETHING else, for the love. You (once again, me!) made a stupid choice to buy a snowboard when you don’t know anything about snowboards and now you are told it is broken and you can’t find boots and it is all completely pointless.” It was a rough night of tears and irrational thought. (But I am better now, no worries needed about my overall sanity.) And Keziah went since she has her own money and a friend was able to loan her all the gear she needed, so that was super fun, even though the other kiddos were disappointed.

Starting gym again on Friday and not ready to be up on my feet again. This new flare up of my knee injury is frustrating.

Plummeting progesterone levels which equals a weepy, emotions-all-over-the-place mama.

Play practices ramping up for Miss Keziah’s play which is at the end of the month. So, we don’t see her much.

Same girly getting her driver’s license (hopefully this week!) which is exciting and wonderful and will help out a ton, but leaves me with no vehicle whenever she takes the Subaru. (Our suburban runs just fine, but it is not driveable right now because the heater core broke on the way to Swim Camp back in June. Living up here in the frozen tundra prevents anyone with a eve a wee bit of sanity to drive a vehicle without a heater!)

Fisher finished his math program a few ago and we are trying to figure out where to go next with him. And my brain or spirit or something must be closed off to the heavens (or more likely just really, really tired) because I just don’t know what to do.

I am trying to put together the next semester of Liberty Girls and feeling little direction from on high…which leads to low motivation on my end.

I feel like hibernating right here in my house and savoring the long, winter days with books, warm quilts, hot chocolate, and lots of calm. I don’t want to actually deal with reality and answer the phone, pay bills, run errands, organize anything, or go anywhere. So I am doing that. AND doing a bit of the other because, you know, life.

Lots of changes, so we are easing into them and trying not to cause all-out rebellion (mostly my own rebellion where I throw in the towel and head for my imaginary cabin in the hills, haha!). Yesterday we started reading Stone Fox (love that book!) for the man club Fisher is a part of, Explorer Boys, and ever so slowly started back into our normal school days. I think we will start some geometry today with him and see how it goes.

All the books for 2016 for my colloquia group have been selected and I just might get them posted here, but no guarantees since at the moment my energy level is roughly equivalent to a sloths. Tomorrow night is our first discussion of the year, which means I’ll need to shower…and turn on my brain…but then I can enjoy hearing thoughts and ideas on a great book and it will be lovely.

So this week is going to be slow and calm and full of nurturing…I need the calm. There is plenty of time for the busy later.

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narnia

Jan 1, 2016 by

We started our next read-aloud for 2016 tonight. In the midst of grumpy kids who were tired from late nights, sugar-laden, and about to dddiiiiiieee from taking down the Christmas decorations, magic was created.

Back in November, God whispered to my heart that our next read-aloud was to be the entire Chronicles of Narnia series. At first, I thought, “Our children know these stories inside and out, I don’t think I should take the time to read them aloud to them. I need to use this precious time for something they haven’t been exposed to yet.” But the quiet whispering continued and I knew there was a good reason for it. My excitement at the prospect grew and all through the nights of December Christmas stories, I grew giddy inside at the thought of sharing the wonderment of Narnia with our children over the next many months.

So, tonight, with children annoying one another and complaining at each new task assigned to them in our Christmas clean-up, we started our adventure. Richard made everyone hot chocolate while we finished the last of the clean-up and we welcomed everyone to grab a mug and a blanket and sit down and listen.

Soon calmness prevailed and happiness won out over the grumps. The magic of read-aloud time to bring a family together never ceases to amaze me. I think the world could be changed dramatically if all families spent some time in the evenings enjoying a delicious book together.

At the end of the chapter, they begged, “Please read another! Please, please! Just one more!” I reminded them that just thirty minutes prior they had been saying, “We don’t want to read Narnia! We want to watch Return of the Jedi!” and they grinned and said, “Yes, but now we want you to read more!”

Cracks me up.

The power of story is real. Stories speak to the deepest parts of who we are. They inspire courage, build connection, and create a culture of shared identity. They are the best things I know of to bind a family together.

What are you reading with your family right now?

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narnia

Jan 1, 2016 by

We started our next read-aloud for 2016 tonight. In the midst of grumpy kids who were tired from late nights, sugar-laden, and about to dddiiiiiieee from taking down the Christmas decorations, magic was created.

Back in November, God whispered to my heart that our next read-aloud was to be the entire Chronicles of Narnia series. At first, I thought, “Our children know these stories inside and out, I don’t think I should take the time to read them aloud to them. I need to use this precious time for something they haven’t been exposed to yet.” But the quiet whispering continued and I knew there was a good reason for it. My excitement at the prospect grew and all through the nights of December Christmas stories, I grew giddy inside at the thought of sharing the wonderment of Narnia with our children over the next many months.

So, tonight, with children annoying one another and complaining at each new task assigned to them in our Christmas clean-up, we started our adventure. Richard made everyone hot chocolate while we finished the last of the clean-up and we welcomed everyone to grab a mug and a blanket and sit down and listen.

Soon calmness prevailed and happiness won out over the grumps. The magic of read-aloud time to bring a family together never ceases to amaze me. I think the world could be changed dramatically if all families spent some time in the evenings enjoying a delicious book together.

At the end of the chapter, they begged, “Please read another! Please, please! Just one more!” I reminded them that just thirty minutes prior they had been saying, “We don’t want to read Narnia! We want to watch Return of the Jedi!” and they grinned and said, “Yes, but now we want you to read more!”

Cracks me up.

The power of story is real. Stories speak to the deepest parts of who we are. They inspire courage, build connection, and create a culture of shared identity. They are the best things I know of to bind a family together.

What are you reading with your family right now?

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read to me

Dec 9, 2015 by

Me: I need to work on the computer for awhile, why don’t you listen to this audio-book from the library.

F: Mom, it’s SO MUCH better when you read the book.

Me: Really, better than a professional narrator?

F: YES. I want you to read all the books.

I can’t even tell you how much this warms my heart! My eleven-year-old boy still loves to snuggle up on the couch under a blanket and have me read to him for hours and hours – I hope it never ends.

Oh, how good it is to be so adored by your children. If only my face and voice could keep up with their insatiable desire to be read to!

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celebrating the family video

Oct 13, 2015 by

I saw this video yesterday and have to share it because I love it so much! I set a goal to memorize The Family: A Proclamation To The World this year in our homeschool and even had an awesome giant poster printed (thanks to Valena!) in the weeks right before Blythe left, but we haven’t started yet. I haven’t even hung the poster up! But today that is changing. Today we begin! This video gave me the nudge I needed to get back on track with this goal.

If you want to make your own giant 24 x 36 poster, here is the pdf file. The awesome Valena also made a matching poster for The Living Christ. You can download that pdf file here.

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squares and mazes, wahoo!

Oct 12, 2015 by

If you are anything like me, you pin things and then never do anything about them or flat out forget about them. Recipes, learning ideas, and home cutification ideas get pinned and forgotten on a fairly regular basis.

BUT, there is hope! I printed out two of my pins and introduced them to my children last Monday and they were both a huge hit! Then I took them to my Math ALIVE! class on Wednesday and my students gobbled them up and begged me to let them take the games home with them. So, now that I have tested them with nearly 20 children, I can say with absolute confidence that your children will love them as well…at least I am pretty darn sure they will! With the goal of creating more math lovers out in the world, I must share these winners!

The first is a spin-off of the dots/complete-the-squares game with multiplication problems added in. My dear boy did about 400 multiplication problems CHEERFULLY while we played the game. And his speed increased dramatically. The totally awesome Mathified Squares Game can be found here. My math students would have happily played it all hour if I would have let them. Instead, I taught them about Eratosthenes and blew their minds with how he measured the circumference of the earth within 200 miles of the measurement we have today.

We printed out lots of copies, grabbed a pair of dice, a cookie sheet, and two different colored pens, and dove right in. Now that I know my kids love it bunches and bunches, I might laminate them and use wipe-off markers, but I am a bit worried we would accidently erase some of our lines with our wrists as we move across the page. The same woman has several other different versions – addition, subtraction, factors, and more, but I am pretty sure those games need to be paid for. If she has a multiplication sheet for 12 sided dice, I will buy it, if not, I am going to make my own, so we can practice up to 12 x 12. (Fisher just told me he wants me to make one up to 20 x 20!)

The second is a large set of Skip-Counting Mazes. Annesley worked through about twenty of them in one sitting and pulled them back out today to do even more. Fisher discovered an error on one of the counting by 5 mazes, but even that error added to his learning as he triple checked all the numbers and possibilities before declaring with confidence that there was a mistake and the number 245 was missing.

Both of these activities are wonderful for cementing in those basic math skills we all need while not making it seem like the drill-n-kill approaches that so often shut little ones brains down.

We are on a math roll around here lately. Annesley finished her math book last week and started a new one today. She decided she wants to do 11 pages a day! And today she did it! I decided to introduce a new game to them today and it was a huge hit as well. Corners is from the RightStart Card Games Kit and is a fabulous game for working on multiples of 5 and addition. I wasn’t sure if Annes could handle it, but with a little bit of help once her score got into the 200s she did just fine.

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squares and mazes, wahoo!

Oct 12, 2015 by

If you are anything like me, you pin things and then never do anything about them or flat out forget about them. Recipes, learning ideas, and home cutification ideas get pinned and forgotten on a fairly regular basis.

BUT, there is hope! I printed out two of my pins and introduced them to my children last Monday and they were both a huge hit! Then I took them to my Math ALIVE! class on Wednesday and my students gobbled them up and begged me to let them take the games home with them. So, now that I have tested them with nearly 20 children, I can say with absolute confidence that your children will love them as well…at least I am pretty darn sure they will! With the goal of creating more math lovers out in the world, I must share these winners!

The first is a spin-off of the dots/complete-the-squares game with multiplication problems added in. My dear boy did about 400 multiplication problems CHEERFULLY while we played the game. And his speed increased dramatically. The totally awesome Mathified Squares Game can be found here. My math students would have happily played it all hour if I would have let them. Instead, I taught them about Eratosthenes and blew their minds with how he measured the circumference of the earth within 200 miles of the measurement we have today.

We printed out lots of copies, grabbed a pair of dice, a cookie sheet, and two different colored pens, and dove right in. Now that I know my kids love it bunches and bunches, I might laminate them and use wipe-off markers, but I am a bit worried we would accidently erase some of our lines with our wrists as we move across the page. The same woman has several other different versions – addition, subtraction, factors, and more, but I am pretty sure those games need to be paid for. If she has a multiplication sheet for 12 sided dice, I will buy it, if not, I am going to make my own, so we can practice up to 12 x 12. (Fisher just told me he wants me to make one up to 20 x 20!)

The second is a large set of Skip-Counting Mazes. Annesley worked through about twenty of them in one sitting and pulled them back out today to do even more. Fisher discovered an error on one of the counting by 5 mazes, but even that error added to his learning as he triple checked all the numbers and possibilities before declaring with confidence that there was a mistake and the number 245 was missing.

Both of these activities are wonderful for cementing in those basic math skills we all need while not making it seem like the drill-n-kill approaches that so often shut little ones brains down.

We are on a math roll around here lately. Annesley finished her math book last week and started a new one today. She decided she wants to do 11 pages a day! And today she did it! I decided to introduce a new game to them today and it was a huge hit as well. Corners is from the RightStart Card Games Kit and is a fabulous game for working on multiples of 5 and addition. I wasn’t sure if Annes could handle it, but with a little bit of help once her score got into the 200s she did just fine.

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liberty girls

Oct 3, 2015 by

liberty girls

I love mentoring Scholars. LOVE it. Youth that have their heads screwed on straight, have the tenacity and courage to do hard things, the desire to learn, and the ability to digest and discuss big ideas are my favorite students. So for the past five years I have spent my time (hundreds of hours!) teaching those youth. Reading stuff like The Communist Manifesto, Unbroken, Mere Christianity, The Hiding Place, Animal Farm, To Destroy You Is No Loss, Flag of Our Fathers, and Hiroshima and then discussing them with my students has brought me so much joy. It lights a fire in my soul to be part of a young person’s education, to help them understand the world in new ways and to see themselves with new eyes.

This spring, I knew I needed a break. After the car accident in January, I was barely making it through each day. Unable to use my mouth much, eating liquids nearly exclusively, and being in constant pain wore me out and not knowing how I would be doing this fall, I decided I needed to take a complete break from mentoring. But sometime in April, the quiet whisperings of the Spirit started entering my heart and prompted me to start a Liberty Girls group for Annesley. I don’t particularly enjoy teaching other people’s young children. Loving and teaching my own is one thing, but children who are not mine is a whole ‘nother story. So I kind of rejected the idea. But the promptings kept coming and I kept pondering. Finally in June I decided I really needed AND wanted to go on this adventure with my Annesley.

After lots more thinking and planning, we invited nine girls between the ages of seven and nine to join us, chose our theme for the semester, and selected the books we would read and discuss. Our theme is Finding Courage and we are reading books about girls who found their courage and learning about our ancestors who acted with courage in their lives. We are reading The Courage of Sarah Noble and Understood Betsy…such gems! We meet every other week and have a book discussion, Courage Presentation by one of the girls about one of her ancestors who showed courage, snack & outside play time, and an activity related to the book that is both prepared and taught by the Meeting Mother for that week (because being in charge of an activity is not my forte AT ALL!).

We are having so much fun! We have met together four times and I have fallen in love with my Liberty Girls. They are full of courage, kindness, faith, eagerness, and so much ZEST. They make me laugh and I have been amazed at the thoughts they share during our book discussions.

At our Kick-Off Party, the Meeting Mother taught the girls how to make their very own bags using tea towels, staples, and duck tape. The girls needed guidance, but they were totally able to do it on their own and now they have their very own super cute bags to carry their Liberty Girls books and snacks to each of our meetings. Then we went to a nearby Splash Park to have some wet summer fun and develop strong friendships within our group as they ran around and played games in the water.

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At our first official meeting, we had our first Courage Presentation, discussed the first half of The Courage of Sarah Noble, and then went on a hike just like Sarah did in our book. I wasn’t quite up to walking that day, so the girls pushed me in my wheelchair. I was amazed at the insights they shared on the book. The concept of “Keep up your courage” sunk deep into their souls and they shared lots of experiences where they needed to find courage and then keep it up. Sarah’s courage in leaving her mother and siblings to help her father by cooking for him while he built their new home inspired these girls to do hard things as well.

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At one point on our hike, one of the girls lost a flip-flop (not even her own flip-flop, another girl had let her borrow them) in a swampy, murky spot of water. It was disgusting! The girls searched and searched for about 15 minutes and could not find the sandal in the water. Then they prayed and asked for help and with courage plunged their sticks and hands in to the sludge one more time. And they found it! They came running back to me sitting in my wheelchair out on the trail shrieking, Miss Tracy, we kept up our courage, we kept up our courage! The water was so gross and we kept searching and didn’t give up! And then we prayed and then God helped us find it!” Oh my goodness, my heart filled up with JOY!

Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of the sandal swamp incident since I couldn’t get down there.

The girls found some turtles swimming in the water. You probably can’t see them, but there are about 5 turtles down there in front of them.

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Then we found ducks and geese and some kind college kids gave the girls some bird food. They had a blast feeding them and holding the little ones.

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As they were pushing me back to the car, we were walking on a road (a hardly ever traveled road!) and the girls were worried a car would hit me in my wheelchair, so they formed a barrier wall and marched in front of me protecting me. Cracked me up! And trust me, if I was actually concerned that a car would be traveling down that road, I wouldn’t have let them walk down the middle of it.

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Mentoring these young girls is so much fun. They are alive with curiosity, willingness to learn new things, and so much silliness. They love to play with our kittens, run around our yard in all sorts of imaginary worlds, and share all the excitements of their lives. It is a sacred honor to be part of their character development and to be gifted this opportunity to learn and grow with them.

I will try to get photos from our next two meetings posted soon!

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gearing up

May 3, 2015 by

Ready, set, GO!

It’s play week which means piles of FUN!

It also means meals on the run, late nights, little sleep, long days, concessions out the wazoo (I have been the concession manager for almost all of my children’s plays for the past six years), a messy house, loads of laughter, and everything in between.

Miss Keziah is Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and though I haven’t seen a single rehearsal yet, those who have tell me she pulls Puck off splendidly. Her costume, made by my dear Jennifer, is fabulous and her moss make-up is full of win.

In addition to all the play busyness, Blythe’s mission call should come this week, it is my birthday – WAHOO!, Fisher has a Space Derby for Scouts, and we have several family members coming into town to watch the play.

A wee bit of craziness is before us, so I better get some sleep tonight while I can.

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