Monday, June 25, 2012


Mombuli - (noun) Term of address for female parent. Used exclusively by male offspring. (ex. 
                   Mombuli, hug!) Origin: unknown.

Cozy - (noun) Rectangular piece of soft fabric. Used as a bed covering or for morning cuddle time.
            (ex. I need a cozy!) Origin: Being tucked into car seats in cold weather. ("There you go. Nice
            and cozy.

Valise - (noun) Term of address for female sibling. Used exclusively by male sibling. (ex. No,

Stars - (noun) Gummy Omega-3 supplements. (ex. I need stars!)

Whole Life - (noun) Strawberry freezer jam. (ex. More whole life, Mombuli!) Origin: Hearing that
                      said freezer jam would be the best jam of one's whole life.
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Saturday, June 23, 2012

Homeschool Preschool

I posted a couple of months ago about the preschool plan I was crafting for Linus and Veda. With a little more time to refine my thoughts about preschool and how preschool might work for us, my thoughts have evolved a bit.

Initially I sought to to recreate a Montessori experience as closely as can be done in a home environment. The more I researched it, though, the more stressed I became about it. Why? A couple of reasons:

1. When in the whoopie pie am I supposed to find the time to plan all of those activities/shop for the materials/create the materials/assemble the materials? Not practical at this stage when they require constant attention. And where am I supposed to store all of that stuff when it's out of rotation?

2. Creating a schedule that accommodates weekly activities like library story times, our signing class, and play groups on certain days and at differing times... it's a little confusing. Then there's fitting in play dates, fun excursions to places like the zoo, running errands... When I sat down to create a schedule that included all of that stuff and the things I wanted to include as part of our preschool schedule like outdoor time, Montessori tray activities, arts and crafts, music, free play, puzzles and games, circle times... it was literally impossible to fit everything in in a day.

Then for about five minutes I wondered if I should enroll the kids in one of the local Montessori schools. Tuition? We'd be paying more for preschool on a monthly basis than for our mortgage. Not an option. Not for preschool.

Then I started thinking about how kids benefit from preschool and early childhood education. A few highlights: Preschool helps kids learn skills, both academic and social, that will prepare them for kindergarten. The kids for whom preschool makes the most positive difference are children who do not have opportunities to practice those skills in their homes or daycares.

This might be a good point to interject why I've been putting so much thought into the whole preschool thing in the first place. Preschool is a very different animal than it was 20 years ago. These days preschool is being pushed for every child (not just for underprivileged children), and governments are scrambling to fund expanding public preschool programs. With more rigorous academic standards (or the perception of more rigorous academic standards) being the talk of the day, parents are eager to give their children a leg up in the school game. Most of us know that the early childhood years are a period of crucial brain development, and we want to set our children up for success.

Then there's the issue of homeschooling. With so much of the general public still critical of homeschooling, homeschooling parents feel a lot of pressure to prove that we're doing right by our children. We want it clear to everyone that our children are bright, thriving, and performing just as well or better than their conventionally-schooled peers. I find myself falling into this desire-to-please-others trap a bit, but I keep reminding myself of this...


Not that there's anything wrong with being that kid. You'd better believe that when my kids do something amazing, I'm the proudest mom on the block.

But who wins the preschool game? I think it's the kid who learns organically through practical life and play activities. It's the kid who gets to play outside every day. It's the kid who still loves learning when he starts school and pursues academic achievement out of intrinsic motivation rather than a desire to elicit praise from adults. It's the kid who gets to pursue his own interests and gets plenty of help in areas where he needs support.

I hope it's my kids. And I hope that I come out of it still enthusiastic about another thirteen years of homeschooling because I haven't burned myself out trying to adhere to a rigid schedule and forgoing what little decompression time I do have to whittle away at an impossible To Do list.

What ARE we going to do?

1. Keep doing all the great stuff we're doing now - kiddie/family concerts, yoga in the backyard, library storytimes, trips to aquariums and planetariums, reading lots and lots and lots of books, playing with toys, making friends, swinging and sliding, digging in the sandbox, coloring, sculpting with play dough...

2. Include a Montessori element, primarily following the book Teach Me to Do It Myself by Maja Pitamic. But I'm not going to worry about the low shelves, the minimalist environment, offering several choices. We'll just work on things as we're ready for them.

That's it. I think it's appropriate.

Bottom line, I have to remember that even though there's a trend toward formal preschool for everyone, staying at home with them is really, really great, and I'm not letting them down.

Not when we do stuff like this:
Drawing. We try to make some kind of art every day.

Playing with science: dropping colored vinegar into baking soda (Yup, from Pinterest!) 

... And learning that we get bigger fizzies if we drop the baking soda into the bowl of vinegar 

Practicing our balance by walking on a painter's tape course 

Making hand print crafts at one of our town's summer recreation events for children

Attending an event for our library's summer reading program that featured reptiles and exotic animals

Going on play dates

"Helping" me out in the kitchen, which involves lots of great fine motor practice 

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Friday, June 22, 2012

Things You Did Today 6/22/2012

Linus, you told me you love me for the first time today. Best feeling ever. You made my day.

Veda, today we checked out a Fancy Nancy book at the library. You love it and took it to bed with you both for your nap and at bedtime. (You take books with you to bed to cuddle with.) As I put you in bed tonight, I gave you a kiss and asked you if you're fancy like Nancy. You shook your head and said, "I'm just Veda." You must be the sweetest little girl in the whole, wide world.
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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Snapshots of Cute Stuff 6/8/12

First up, eating homemade pudding pops.

Linus wants to be a photographer, too. Love that boy. Lesson one will be pointing the lens AWAY from his eye.)

Registering for our third summer reading program for this summer. They're so excited.

The Fairest of the Fair from last year's.... um, fair... reading a story to us. We started out this engaged...

But our attention span is short.

Still, this.

Holding onto my legs to go for a "ride".

This little girl loves being photographed and asks me to take her picture often. (Yay!)

Mimi makes a rare appearance in SOCS. See the spaghetti stains on her back?

On a play date with friend Ian, who just turned one. Precious. (See Dr. Veda wearing her souvenir stethoscope from the hospital? One of their new favorite toys.) Linus and Veda are still in their pajamas because I've known Ian's mommy since the end of the last ice age, and you can do that with those friends.

What's that that Linus has been eating? Something delicious? Only if brown crayons are delicious. Mmmm. Thanks for being non-toxic, Crayola. 

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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Old Lady Knee

It all started with apartment hunting. Finding a place to live from 1,600 miles away is no easy task, but that's exactly what I set out to do two years ago. What we settled on was a two story townhouse in the High Desert district of Albuquerque. What I loved about it was the neighborhood, the proximity to most of the good stuff in Albuquerque, and the garage. What I never anticipated hating so much was the stairs. I grew up in a house with stairs, but this place was different. Both bathrooms and both of the bedrooms (including the nursery with changing table) were upstairs. After only a couple of months in the apartment, my knee had already started to crunch and crackle. By the time Christmas came around and it was time to fly back to Tennessee for a family visit, one of the things I was most looking forward to was getting a break from the stairs.

When we were still in Albuquerque, I went to a pcp doctor, who did x-rays, said he didn't see any arthritis, and said I probably had a hiking injury... from the stairs.

I didn't worry about it much since I thought that moving back into our one story house would solve the problem.

...But here I am about nine months later feeling more symptomatic. I've given up on exercise. Putting weight on the knee during yoga is painful, and an experimental run this spring had me sore for a week.

When I had the cyst removed from my wrist, I also talked to that orthopedist about the knee. He put me in physical therapy and did an injection of kenalog in the knee, which didn't help. Making no improvement, I finally requested to see someone in the same practice who specializes in knees. This guy did another set of x-rays, which showed nothing. He then sent me to have an MRI, which showed three things: edema (swelling), inflammation, and the beginning of arthritis. Pretty much everything on the inside of my knee is either swollen or inflamed. Well, that explains a lot.

He seems to think I can get back to running and yoga soon, which is my ultimate goal. To get me there, he did another steroid injection in the knee, prescribed different physical therapy, and ordered me to ice my knee every night.

Why am I telling you this? I'm frustrated. I hate that I put so much effort into being a healthy eater but I still feel like an inactive, flabby slug. And my knee has been killing me since last night. As in crippling, can-hardly-walk pain. Dr. Google says it's a steroid flare, which might be a good thing since this didn't happen with the injection that didn't help. And arthritis. Are you kidding me? I like to think of myself as young, and this does not bode well for the future. Ugh.

Running in the evenings after the kids go to sleep, yoga during nap time - heck, taking the kids to the zoo without needing to ice my knee for a couple of hours afterwards - maybe I'll get there soon.

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Sunday, June 3, 2012

June Salad Challenge

One of my favorite food blogs, Oh She Glows, is doing a June salad-a-day challenge. The crazy sickness that's been going on around here (you know, when all four of us and all of the grandparents got the stomach virus from HELL and then Linus got another stomach virus not even two weeks later) and the hospital stay/cafeteria offerings got me a little off-track in my healthy eating habits, so it sounds like the perfect thing to get me back to where I need to be with my diet. (Though I hate to say diet, because I'm not "dieting" in the contemporary sense of the word.)

The idea is to eat a salad every day for the month of June. What better way to fit in lots of vegetables on a daily basis? In the link to Oh She Glows that I posted above, there are some links to some yummy-looking salad recipes, but at least for this first week I'm planning to eat a "Big Salad" for lunch every day. (Remember Elaine ordering the "Big Salad" at the little diner they hung out at on Seinfeld?) Peas and Thank You, another food blog I enjoy, refers to it as a "Hugh Jass" salad, which cracks me up.

Here's my Big Salad formula:

Base of greens + lots of vegetables + chickpeas or black beans + Nuts (usually slivered almonds) + a good store-bought dressing

Following that formula, I always finish the salad feeling comfortably full.

Every couple of weeks or so we do a Big Salad night for dinner, and I like setting it up as a bar for a little added fun. And since efficiency and practicality are of the utmost importance for moms, I'll mention that it's handy to do Big Salad night early in the week so that vegetables, greens, and other toppings are already prepared for lunches for the rest of the week.

Here's what Big Salad night looks like at our house:

One other thing I love about Big Salad night is that it's a good opportunity to keep presenting the kids with vegetables they don't like... yet. You've probably heard that little ones sometimes need to be offered a food multiple, multiple times before they accept it. When I'm offering a little bit of a lot of stuff, it doesn't feel like such a big deal if they reject some of it, as opposed to another night when I might have made only two vegetables and worry about them getting enough to eat if they don't like one of them.

Since I have kids who are underweight according to their growth charts (which I think is baloney), I make sure to add a side of buttery garlic toast and give desert afterwards. Those poor, poor kids.

So.... anybody else up for the salad-a-day challenge? And what's your favorite salad topping?

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Friday, June 1, 2012

"Oatmeal With Strawberries!"

... that's almost always the reply when I ask the kids what they'd like for breakfast.

This recipe makes enough for one mommy and two little ones. Adjust amounts according to family members/appetites.

What You'll Need:
  • 1 1/4 c quick oats
  • 2 1/4 c vanilla soy or almond milk
  • 2 Tbsp milled flax seeds
  • Diced strawberries
  • Cane sugar to sweeten to taste
  1. Combine oats milk, and flax in a medium saucepan and put on low-medium heat. At this point I let it do its thing while I do the various stuff that must be done in the morning, walking by every few minutes to give it a stir.
  2. When it's thickened, remove from heat.
  3. Add to bowls and stir in sugar to taste. (I wait to add the sugar until it's in the bowls because *shhhhhh* I put more in mine than in the kids'. Don't tell.) Top with diced strawberries.
I'm a big fan of flax in oatmeal. It goes practically undetected with the bulkiness of the oats, and it has so many nutritional benefits. It can't be beat in terms of omega-3's, which are so important for developing brains. For the old mom crowd, it's a good source of fiber. (But that's not all! Read here for more about the wonders of flax.)

Oatmeal with Strawberries (!!!!!). It's our favorite way to start the day.
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