Monday, February 28, 2011

For my family's sake, I have posted several pictures and comments about Norah's new-to-her bedroom set that we purchased off Craigslist this last weekend.

The back story is: I have been checking Craigslist for weeks, looking for computer desks and shelves to go with the white daybed that Norah already had. But, we also needed a new twin mattress... so I was keeping my eyes out for that, too. That's how I came upon the ad for this bedroom set.

The back, back story is: A very nice couple in a huge, immaculate home about thirty minutes away has a grown daughter who used the furniture originally. She has gone away to grad school. The lady has a lot of clothes and shoes and is clearing out her daughter's room (that shares a wall with her master bedroom) to have the bedroom converted into a very large walk in closet...

Needless to say, I felt very comfortable taking this particular family's used goods. It was clear that they were even cleaner people than we are! But, I still washed everything with bleach and wiped everything down. I love the fact that it is used furniture so I am not so uptight about Norah scratching it, yet it is also in great shape and it so solid that it will just last and last and last.

So, that's how we got this twin pillow top mattress, box spring, bed frame and the several pieces of white, handmade, solid wood furniture for just $250. The couple also just gave us the risers for under-the-bed storage, a very thick pillow top mattress cover (one so nice that I could never be able to afford it for myself), an extra long bed skirt and an extra thick white sheet set... I was thrilled with all this because I knew they were things I would want to buy in the next few weeks and months anyway.

And, as you can also see, everything fits into Norah's room like a glove! I really couldn't have even ordered furniture that was more perfect for the space or more suited to my very practical, very plain taste!

Here you can see the chalkboard my brother got Norah several months ago... It's just propped up on Norah's desk for now, but it used to hang on the wall where that short shelf is now. I think I will have to hang this somewhere else in the house, low enough on another wall for the baby to use. Note: Avril loved to sneaking into Norah's room to play with the chalk, so Avril may really like to have this chalkboard on a wall in her room now... We will see.

Norah is asking for cork squares on her walls so she can hang her artwork. We also have some empty white picture frames that she can fill with pictures. And, I am planning on making or buying curtains for Norah's windows in the next few weeks. We already have the curtain rods from way back when this was the guest room and Norah was across the hall in the nursery, so all I need to do is decided on them (with Norah's approval, of course) and then get them hung!

Below you can see part of the new bed skirt. It's got a beautiful embroidered pattern on it. If I had picked a bed skirt out brand new from the store, I wouldn't have changed a thing about this one. It's just what I would have looked for. I know it's "little," but these few, free items add up to significant savings for me.

This is the wall where Norah's old daybed used to sit. It had drawers underneath it for Norah's clothes and it was the only piece of furniture Norah even needed for the longest time... But, more and more lately Norah has been asking for shelves for her books and we have been wishing she had her own desk and computer to use in her room (and out of our hair) and she has really, really needed a lamp by her bed to read by, etc. So... it was time to make the changes that we did.

In the picture below, you can see out Norah's door and down the hall into Avril's bedroom with the bright yellow walls. We moved Norah's old bed into the baby's room (and you can even see the girls climbing on it in the photo.) Avril is still in the crib that is also still in her room, but now Norah's old bed will be in her room, too, waiting for the time when Avril will grow out of the crib and into it just like Norah did.

A view of how the furniture fits right around Norah's closet door. Nothing's too small or too big.

We let Norah stay up late to read by lamp light. This old lamp used to be in the guest room downstairs. Dwayne and I got it about ten years ago when we were setting up house after we got married. Norah was just thrilled to finally have a lamp. I may get her another, more girlie one and take this one back to the guest room... but until then, this one is doing the job fine.

I walked out of her room for a few minutes and came back to see that she had already put one of her favorite stuffed horses (that the neighbors bought her while they went on vacation) and her clay tablet with her name on it in cuneiform on her desk to decorate it.

She really was ready for this kind of individual space to keep up and to take pride in. But, we didn't rush anything, we waited on God and found that the perfect furniture was provided for in the perfect time. The Lord is good.

Avril just loves her baby right now. (This is a really precious stage that I remember Norah going through when she was almost two years old, too. I remember that Norah was fascinated with babies while she was still very much a baby herself.) So it is with Avril. She will carry her baby over to me and say, "Baby?!" Her tone is always one half-question and one half-answer at the same time. Then she will kiss her baby and show me her baby. She waits patiently for me to say something adoring about her baby. Sometimes she wants me to kiss the baby, too. After I do, she smiles at me and then smiles down at her baby. She kisses her baby again and rocks it in the bend of her elbow. This whole process is pretty dang cute.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

My Resolutions for 2011.

Let Norah play outside
We had too much snow in the yard for Norah to play outside, actually. She had to crawl over the top of the snow piles, rather than walk on them because with every step, she'd sink up to her knees... so she hasn't even asked to go outside in weeks. I guess I should will try and take her to the Jump Zone this week. Now that I consider it, the girl probably really needs some exercise.

Read through the entire Bible.
I'm using this plan. But, I am very behind schedule. I am almost done with all the reading for the month of January, but that doesn't mean much since it's almost March! So, I am almost a full month behind. But... I am enjoying and benefiting from the reading I have done.

Hold Dwayne's hand
I'm taking this one off the list, officially. Holding hands is too impractical for us at this stage in our lives. If we were twelve, this might be something. I think I will have to find other, more effective ways to express my love to Dwayne on a regular basis. I have some ideas.

I am going to go back to listening to God. I prayed more when I wasn't the one doing all the talking, interestingly enough.

I read "To Kill a Mockingbird" in January. I read "The Adventures and Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes" and another, shorter book about spiritual warfare called "Needless Casualties of War." My official book for March was going to be "Dumbing Us Down" by John Taylor Gatto. But, I've already finished that one, too! So, now I am moving on to Oliver Twist.

Eat fruit and vegetables
I started this as an experiment and it has already revolutionized the way I even think about food. I had only two bad-for-me items this month (french fries and cheese steak) and both of them ended up in the toilet... and I mean that they came from my mouth into the toilet. I think my body is beginning to reject food that isn't nutritious.

No late night eating.
I am doing really well with this, going to bed earlier helps.

Be consistent in the garden.
I am daydreaming about planting colorful pansies in my flower basket on the deck. My eyes are so color starved with this barren winter landscape, but I still have to wait a few weeks before I can even do that much "gardening."

Stop talking in bed.
Yeah, I'm not doing that well with this one. But, I am doing better than I did before I ever resolved to change.

Go to be early.
Also doing better than before. These days, I will often beat Dwayne to bed.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Avril pouting. I had taken away the paints and the paint brush. It was time to clean up... so sad.
Norah found another craft she wanted to make from 100 Things You Should Know About Ancient Egypt.

It was a snake game.

We worked on this together. We used a plate to trace a circle on the bottom of a box. I cut it out. We printed a free color sheet of a snake online and then Norah colored it and cut its head out. I traced the circles with a quarter and Norah colored them in.

Here's the finished game board.

We used some markers and a die from another board game we have. The girls played and Avril's marker got to the snake first, so she won.

Friday, February 25, 2011

This is Norah's narration of the story of Osiris and Set from chapter two of The Story of the World. It took me a while to copy it. As you can see, it's pretty long. One thing about Norah... she's so good at narration that at this point, she can almost quote the stories she hears more than once. So, it looks like we will have to work on her ability to summarize next.

Yes, my kids are almost always in their pajamas... But, we're stuck in the house almost everyday of the winter and we home school, so getting dressed would be excessive, bordering on eccentric for our way of life... Think about it... But, I'll have you know, in the spring and summer when we are out in the yard watering flowers and picking beans from the garden before we even have our breakfast, we do get dressed almost everyday and almost as soon as we get out of bed.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Norah painted her Eye of Horus today.

My husband is blogging now. Click here.
Norah finished reading 100 Things You Should Know About Ancient Egypt yesterday afternoon on her own.

When she finished, she asked me to help her make an eye of Horus, an idea she found in the book. I found this recipe for salt dough online and we used that instead of clay.

I gave her some guidance, but Norah actually did a large portion of this herself, believe it or not.

We used the rest of our dough to make a platter.

We baked these for two hours and I am letting them cool. We'll paint them another day.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I finished Sherlock Holmes last night and I started reading Dumbing Us Down (getting a head start on my reading for March.)

This book is incredible. I know I use that word a lot, but... If you haven't heard of it yet, if you live on Mars or something (just kidding), this book was written by retired school teacher, John Taylor Gatto, and it is a commentary on what is wrong with the formal school system.

homeschooling and unschooling families celebrate this book. And, I must admit that I will buy a copy (this one I am borrowing from a homeschooling friend of mine) and Gatto's words will be read and reread and quoted extensively by this homeschool family, too.

For instance, when another homeschooling friend of mine (on Facebook) found out I was reading it, she commented on my wall and told me when she reads anything Gatto writes, she feels like he is "directly talking to her soul..." To that, I agreed heartily and here's what I said to her. It sums up how I feel about this book so far,

"I felt that way while reading it, too! like Gatto is putting into words what has been in my heart for as long as I can remember. I hated school, deeply, but I also felt terrible about this because everyone told me I was supposed to be good at it. I was supposed to love it. So I tried to be a 'good student.' And, I generally was a good student, usually stayed on the honor roll, etc. but felt like I was was dying inside everyday. Going to school did not equal living for me. I did not even equal learning. It was torture. It was intellectual death. Those are strong words, but it is true... for me."

If you want to get inside a homeschoolers head and find out why we would even consider doing something so counter cultural, you could read this book. Obviously, I didn't read this book before I made the decision to homeschool... but it expresses some of the ideas I had simmering when I decided to homeschool even before I had kids. You'll come away from this book with better understanding of why more and more people are doing this homeschool thing and you may even be so moved you will decide to homeschool your kids, too.

Think 1984... only it's not fiction.

Yep. It's that freaky.

The book is that powerful.

We are slowly moving through our history program The Story of the World, Volume One: Ancient History.

I've come to realize that I have to leave a good deal of the additional reading unread and some of the projects, as awesome as they are, undone. I've wanted to do all the additional readings, all the corresponding literature suggestions, all the projects. I didn't want to miss anything.

But, I have had to be honest with myself about how unrealistic it is for me to expect to read more than one or two extra books on each chapter and do perhaps one of the projects per week (maybe even one every other week) if we want to finish this book within a year. (And, I do want to finish this book within a year, so that I can start the next book and stay on the four year history cycle.)

Thus, we've only just now moved on the chapter three (but we have moved on, which is good) and we are going to do as much as possible by Monday, when, we are, in fact, moving on to chapter four, as painful as that may be for me. (I still really want to make the red and white crowns for Upper and Lower Egypt. It really burns me that I kept forgetting the buy the red paper board I needed when I was at Wal-mart.) But, anyway...

At this point, we are planning to do one chapter a week and we are going to try to finish this book by January 1, 2012. At least, that's the goal.

Below are some photos of a project we did this week and the extra books we are read to go along with Chapter Three: The First Writing.

I've had this little package of clay in my craft supplies for years. It finally came in handy this week. One of the optional activities was to write a message in a clay tablet using cuneiform letters.

We used a flat head screw driver in place of a reed. This all-in-one screwdriver (that I keep in my kitchen junk drawer for odd jobs) was even more perfect for the job because the tops can actually come out of the base. Norah held it almost like a pencil.

We kneaded the clay till it was soft and warm and then we formed it into a rectangle so Norah could write different words on it using the cuneiform guide above.

We even let Avril poke around in the clay for a while. It was cute until she started stabbing through the clay to the table...

Norah ended up writing her name in the clay tablet and we baked it according to the directions on the package. It got rock hard and it will make a nice keepsake to decorate Norah's desk or shelf now.

We are also reading through the book 100 Things You Should Know About Ancient Egypt. We're on #52 out of the hundred, I think, and hopefully, we will finish by Friday when the books are due back to the library. Notice the pencil marks on the cover. They're Avril's doing. I'll have to take care of those before Friday, too.

We have also read the book Seeker of Knowledge about Jean Francois Champollion, the man who discovered how to decipher Egyptian hieroglyphics.

These books have inspired Norah to say, "If I can't find gems in the river in Sri Lanka when I grow up, I want to be a grave robber or an Egyptologist."

This Ultimate Sticker Book: Ancient Egypt was not on the recommended lists in The Well Trained Mind Activity Book, but it's been a fun addition to our week. The stickers are photos of real artifacts which makes them really interesting to examine.

That's a rubber band on the blurry finger she's holding up to me. She'd gotten it off. And, as you can see, the other rubber band is almost off, too. These rubber bands were my last hope. The mom whose little children always have neat hair swore they'd stay in, that it was "impossible" for any child to remove them. Ha! I should have known...

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I collected all the pieces of her cabin (Norah had dumped the set into the big pile of Legos) and we built this after dinner the other night. The plan is to re-build and keep all the Lego houses and businesses we have intact until Norah has the makings of a nice little Lego village. We'll see...

I went in to check on Norah before I went to bed and I found her sleeping like this. We got this plush horse brand new from the thrift store for less than two dollars. I love thrift stores and Norah loves this horse. But, turns out, it's like her sixth stuffed horse. I'm not sure where she gets all her horses, though, since this is the first stuffed horse I even remembering buying her myself. Have I mentioned how much I love thrift stores now?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Such a beautiful smile... Can I see it without the passi?