Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Children at Night

In preparation for the season, I've been leafing through my collection of Christmas storybooks and came across one of my favorites: Snowmen at Night by Caralyn Buehner. Caralyn's husband Mark whimsically illustrates the mischievous tale of the nocturnal activities of a snowman. It got me thinking about last night...

I'm bunking alone this week. Around 1:00 Michael came in to tell me he was scared. In a daze, I told him to hop in bed with me. At 3:30, the next little man came in crying because, well, I don't know why exactly, but I figured Why not? He crawled in between Michael and me. I still had not fallen back asleep a half hour later when I heard a dainty little cough outside my door. It was none other than Her Royal Highness, clutching her blankie and with an expectant look on her face. Sorry, Princess, no room at the inn. I promptly ushered her back up to bed. I turned off the alarm clock and finally went back to sleep and got an extra half-hour at the tail end of the night.

This morning, Jacob informed me that on his way down to my room at 3:30 he happened upon his little sister asleep on the stairs. What exactly goes on around here after I turn off the lights anyway? Kids, as much as I miss your daddy, it's kind of nice having the whole bed to myself, and I'd like to keep it that way tonight. Moreover, I'd really like to get my 6 hours of sleep all in one dose!

Although the two boys and I are dragging a bit today, the Princess seems not to be fazed in the least. While I was one-on-one schooling with one of the older 3 today, all was quiet with the little one. Turns out she was busy putting the finishing touches on her outfit. That hat? Well, it's been on, as you know, since Monday afternoon. But the shoes, her best Sunday shoes on backwards...they really make the outfit.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Royal Hat

Grandma gave the Princess a new hat and coat. A heavy coat, which she put on and didn't want to take off. Given this is Georgia and the heat was on in the house, we finally convinced her to relinquish the coat. She made it clear that the hat, however, was to stay put. I tried to take it off when I tucked her into bed, but she would hear nothing of it. It did work its way off sometime during the night, becoming lost in her covers so that her awakening caused a minor panic attack: Instead of hearing her normal morning babbling and "Mommy?" through the monitor, I heard "Hat? Hat?" in a voice something close to hysteria.

She's eating breakfast now. Still wearing the hat. I had no idea I only had to put a hat under the tree...and I've already spent all that money on those dumb ol' toys!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

G for Grinch

I think I stole Christmas yesterday. The beginning of Christmas anyway. It is our tradition to decorate the house for Christmas on the day after Thanksgiving, so the day began with boxes being pulled out of storage. Already I had a blasting headache because it has been some time since I've been to see Dr. Quack about adjusting my jaw. Anyway, headache aside, the boxes were set out , and the children naturally wanted to dive in. Being the control freak I am, I wanted everything done in an orderly fashion--no ripping things out of boxes or randomly pulling ornaments out.

As I sorted through the ornaments, I realized just how many we have. We normally have two trees: one is for me to decorate, the other for the kids. During the sorting, I had visions of last year's Charlie Brown tree, the one laden with far too many ornaments, none of which were evenly distributed. I sent the man of the house out to get another tree, one to replace the Charlie Brown tree so the Charlie Brown tree could go upstairs. Yes, I know there are people around the world who don't even get to enjoy one tree. And, yes, I realize I don't need three Christmas trees in my house. But on a day when I was feeling grumpy and grinchy, I really did want a third Christmas tree. So I got a third Christmas tree.

And the tree decorating process was underway. In an orderly fashion. And that's when Alex broke Jacob's "Baby's First Christmas" ornament. I began to scold and lecture about carelessness and sentimentality. As I ranted and raved my first born stared at me like I was the craziest thing since silly putty. "You understand now why I'm upset, right?" I asked her the rhetorical question. I continued by explaining to her that it's not the fact that she broke the ornament that's upsetting because an ornament can be replaced.

"Then why don't you buy another one?" she asks.

"Because this one says '2002' on it, that's why!"


"It's 2007!!"

"Oh. Sorry, Mom." Then she didn't actually shrug her shoulders, but I knew she was shrugging on the inside. And she skipped merrily off to Lala Land, which is where I wish I were sometimes. In Lala Land. Where the Grinchies can't get you. I know she doesn't understand sentimentality yet. And I don't expect her to. And what I should be doing instead of worrying about numbers on an ornament is treasuring the special moments we can have as a family doing something together. I should treasure the way that Charlie Brown tree looks with its many handcrafted ornaments. I should treasure the excitement in the children's eyes as they bring light and color to each room.

I should more often file daily moments under S for sentimental instead of G for Grinch.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Top 10...

...things I'm thankful for:

10. A wonderful family I had the privelege of joining 12 1/2 years ago and with whom I was able to spend this Thanksgiving.

9. A lodge in the mountains where we could spend the holiday...and not have to cook or clean up.

8. A warm day before Thanksgiving that provided a great opportunity for the kids to run around and wrestle. The sun was a welcome, cheery sight as well, although a little too bright for Michael who had his eyes dilated before the trip.

7. A fun loft in the hotel room, which, needless to say, was a highlight for the kids. Michael exclaimed, "I love this hotel! I want to come back here the next time we go to a hotel!"

6. A fun gift exchange for all of the grandchildren...and a special thank you from Audrey for her play baking set.

5. A chance for the kids to spend time with their cousins playing games and getting to know each other better.

4. The opportunity for all of the cousins to become better acquainted...and a chance for me to get to know my nieces and nephews better.

3. Time to spend with my sisters-in-law.

2. Another family reunion to remember because Pierce family reunions are never "normal." This reunion's event worth noting: being edged out of the common area by the loud, drunk "Wastin' Away in Margaritaville" serenader.

1. And the #1 reason for being thankful is the wonderful opportunity to take picture after picture with the family. (Of course, opportunity might not be the right word; duty maybe?!) And with this traditional picture-taking session came this series of pictures:

The in-law picture. My brother-in-law's joke went something like this: What's the difference between an outlaw and an in-law? The outlaw, of course, is wanted. Don't be surprised if I become an outlaw after this post; I will surely be on the run when Jennie finds out I've posted these pictures.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Amazing Race

I hope you caught The Amazing Race this evening...I suppose I should have posted this BEFORE tonight to encourage you to watch it. Not that it would necessarily have been an exceptional hour of TV for everyone out there, but for us it was. If you haven't figured it out from previous posts, hubby and I grew up in West Africa as missionary kids. What does this have to do with the Amazing Race you ask? Well, the teams traveled to Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, tonight, and you should have heard them trying to pronounce that! Too bad they didn't travel a little further south to Ferkessedougou, the town where I grew up! As for Ouaga, Mark lived there for a year and also lived in Bobo-Dioulassou and Santidougou ("dougou" is sort of like our "ville"). It was indeed a treat to see a whole hour of Burkina Faso center stage in pop see the familiar landscape and the African culture. How I would love to take the kids there, although I'm quite sure they would not appreciate the experience so much as I would hope at this age.

So if you caught The Amazing Race tonight, tell me what you thought. I know one thing for sure--what those Africans were thinking: What on EARTH are these silly Americans up to now? And, Oh cool, I'm on TV! (You see, some things transcend all cultures!)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

More Words from the Princess

"Ut eez dat?" she asks about everything. We like to embark upon a very lengthy explanation of the item she is pointing to because it makes it that much more funny at the end. She listens with rapt attention through all the details and then exclaims an understanding, "Oh!"

She has also taken to telling the boys off. Stitch the cat had surgery yesterday, and since his return home, it has been a constant battle with the boys to ensure his safe recovery. This morning, we overhead Audrey scold, "Be nice ditty, Bize!"

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A III-Act Day

Act I
Ever have those days when you think you might scream if you hear one more person call you "Mommy"? Most of today was like that. At one point, one of my boys began, "Mommy, can you..." I interrupted. "Matilda. Call me Matilda. Do you think you could call me Matilda...maybe just for a day? Just for a change. So call me Matilda, OK?" A blank look. A very blank look. He continues, "Mommy, can you..."

Act II
The oldest two are signed up for basketball with Upwards through a local church. Jacob would be great at it too, but the sweet little boy just can't work up the courage to walk out on that court by himself. So the older two had their evaluations today. We were a little nervous because we saw all of those little boys and girls out there dribbling and shooting like pros while our kids really haven't played much. But...they did great! I guess they've picked up a lot just playing out in the driveway--even though we haven't spent that much time out there. They begin practice next month and games in January. I'm looking forward to seeing them have fun through a new outlet.

Mark and I realize our children are on loan from's our job to care for them and ultimately to allow them to live in an environment that is conducive to living their lives for Christ. Tonight during devotions, the boys both asked if they could pray to ask Jesus into their hearts. We're so happy our boys have made this decision. We were a bit hesitant at first because we aren't sure how much they actually understand, but they explained it to us in their own words pretty well. Now it is our responsibility to provide them with the right tools to grow and learn more about God so they may come to a full understanding of the decision they have made.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Flight (Home) School

Nothing could be more enjoyable on a beautiful, sunny, not-too-cold fall day than to hang out in a hangar! We joined our homeschool group today for a field trip to a local airport where we learned how an airplane flies. We learned important airplane terms, and we even got to play on a simulator. We browsed the many planes parked in the lot and discovered just how many different kinds there are. Our hour in the hangar was followed by a leisurely lunch at "The Flying Machine", a restaurant that sits right on the runway. We were all tickled to see a couple and their dog taxi up to the outside patio area of the establishment, come in, get their lunch, and then taxi back out for take-off. Take-out on wings, or take-out on the fly, or perhaps a "fly-thru"?

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Week 1 on Day 61

Day 61 of our school year, and I crammed the first week of our new curriclum in! It was a very condensed version of the lessons provided, but since it was the introductory week, it was light anyway, so we accomplished much. I really do like this new curriculum--it sparks more conversations than we've had before, and the fact that it's all there laid out for me and done is such a blessing.

My Father's World provides Bible lessons too, which is a wonderful addition as I was wanting to incorporate a Bible study but just didn't have time. This year in the "Adventures" series, we focus on the different names of God and getting to know Him through the meanings of each of these names. Today we introduced the significance of names by focusing on the meanings of the kids' names. I had some prep: I had to write a letter to each of the children in which I gave the meaning of each name and the significance of why Mark and I chose each name. They seemed to enjoy receiving these letters, and it was fun for me to do as well.

We're plugging right along and keeping the same pace as before with our core subjects (the 3 Rs). Alex always amazes me with how quickly she picks up things. She has just recently begun doing a lot of her math mentally. When I look over it, I find myself marking her problems by carrying and borrowing to check her accuracy; she's generally always right! I'm not going to be the teacher who requires the student to "show her work" if that's not how she works best, so I guess I'll just "show the work" to check the work!

I do have to admit that I drew the afternoon out a bit too long. The kids' ability for academia pretty much expires at 2:00. If I school after the witching hour, it becomes a battle of wills and bad attitudes. But today I plodded on anyway. We did a science experiment, which the kids enjoyed (I think this occurred about 1:45, so we were safe). Then it was on to history. In this curriculum, we're studying American history, and the timing couldn't be more perfect. We had just finished studying Leif Ericsson and the Vikings in Story of the World, and the first week of MFW provided some much needed review. My little students did comply with listening fairly well and completing a couple of notebook pages; however, they kept asking, "Are we done now?"

Part of the afternoon was also an introduction to the US State Notebooks they will be creating. We talked about the American flag and the Pledge of Allegiance. After a discussion about the significance of the stars and the stripes, we finally finished our school day by decorating a very special dessert for after our leftover spaghetti dinner:

Forget posing for a picture...I'm taking my chances and going for the good stuff!

She Speaks

In a previous chapter, I discussed the endearing names our little Princess had created for her siblings. She has just recently refined her labels to the following: Alex is "Aix", Michael is "Mama", and Jacob is "Bub"! Audrey has also begun stringing words together to form sentences. In fact, I write this in stages because she keeps bringing me a new book with a very clear request: "Read dis un!"

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Sanity Over Pride

Well, I did it. Eleven weeks into the school year I'm changing curriculum. And it's a bit of a blow to my pride. I have always enjoyed planning  and creating my own lessons surrounding an eclectic choice of curriculum and literature. However, somehow my plans which look like perfection on the Master Schedule never completely come to fruition because I just don't have the time to put into them. So...I've ordered a "curriculum in a box." I've heard great things about My Father's World, and I love what I have read about it online. As of tonight, the order's in, and I hope to receive everything this week.

As soon as that box arrives, I'll have to figure out how to jump in mid-year. I could skip to the correct point in the MFW schedule, which goes against my "not-wanting-to-miss-out-on-anything" personality. Or I could just start at the beginning, which means we'll be studying the pilgrims in January. But really, WHY do we only study the Pilgrims at Thanksgiving time? I know it's symbolic and all, but there was so much more to the story. How about studying them during the coldest  month of  the year and thus understanding a bit more of the struggles they went through as they settled this great nation?

So I guess after all of this rambling, it's obvious that I'll just start at the beginning. And so what if my pride is a little trampled. As I told a friend tonight, sanity is so much more valuable than a little pride. Right?

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Little Fashionista

Saturday mornings are lazy times for Mark and me, and we like nothing more than to sleep in. Of course, with small children, that's usually an unrealized dream. We have in the past, however, left out bowls, boxes of cereal, and a manageable jug of milk for our responsible little mommy to take over in the morning. On such occasions, Alex takes on her task with pride and does a great job. Last night, we forgot to set everything out, so I wasn't surprised early this morning to hear the bedroom door open and little feet pad over to our bed. But instead of requesting breakfast, Jacob only wanted to know if he could get Audrey out of bed. (She is in a big girl bed, but you'd think she's still surrounded by bars because she will not get out by herself.) So Jacob headed up to invite her out of bed. After that, I could hear through the monitor the boys and their little sister playing together very amicably.

When the early-risers finally gave in to their rumbly tumblies and requested breakfast, the mister and missus of the house stumbled out of bed to oblige. And that's when we found our little Princess dressed for success:

Who dressed our little fashionista? Why, her big brothers of course...from a pink hat, which she quickly shed, all the way down to her shoes and socks!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Cake Art 101 and Checkmate

I went to co-op yesterday with only 2 kids in tow. Jacob, who is usually my shadow at co-op, stayed home with daddy by his own choice. The Princess, however, was positive that she was missing out on something big and cried for a good part of the time we were gone. I had asked Mark to put this date on his calendar long ago as "Audrey Time" so I would not have her underfoot as I taught all of the girls in our group. The day went well. Here are some highlights:

I joined Alex and her friends in cake decorating. I planned for 15 girls but only had 8, so that was a bit more manageable. I wasn't sure how to handle materials for a group this size and of this age-range, so I had each girl bring in her own cake and decorating equipment. Although it sounded like a great idea at the time (as opposed to my making icing and filling decorator bags for everyone!), I regret asking the kids to bring in those Betty Crocker icing tubes with the plastic tips; they were so difficult to use, it was a bit trying on a child's strength. On the whole, however, I think they had a good time, and their cakes looked great. Hopefully, they learned a little something to take home with them too!

Michael spent co-op time under the instruction of a chess master. The end report wasn't laced with the enthusiasm I expected. Michael's daddy has already taught him how to play chess, so Michael apparently found the first hour extremely boring as it was filled with technical instruction. He had a bit more fun, however, once the boys paired off and began a friendly chess tournament.