Thursday, December 18, 2014

Alisa

I got a new cell phone nearly a year ago, with a new number. Unfortunately for a woman named Alisa, the number used to be hers. Even now, twelve months later, I keep getting calls and texts meant for her. And it's kind of scary how much I know about her, even though I've never met her at all:

  • She is a consultant for DoTerra
  • She has twins and this year was expecting her third child, and announced the pregnancy with a cutesy picture of her kids. 
  • She has a friend named Amy who had pre-eclampsia
  • She had a family reunion this summer and her cousin wanted her help with "morning devo."
  • A friend named Rob often asks her to babysit. 
  • She has an Aunt Kimberly who calls her "Sunshine."
  • Overall she has done a really bad job in getting people to use her new number and not mine. 
When I think about Alisa, I imagine a tall blonde woman with beach curls who buys most of her clothing from Mod Bod and Forever XXI. She probably lives in a cookie-cutter house in Lehi and decorated it herself in colors like "Robins Egg Blue." She has a very active pinterest account and has never experienced a pin fail. Her husband is probably a Lawyer, or is self-employed at a successful start-up business. She most likely majored in English at UVU. I imagine that, in essence, Alisa is the stereotype of all things Utah Valley.

I wish her family would stop calling me.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Yet Another Hobby

First, a declaration: I won at Nanowrimo this year!

Wahoo!

Ok, now I will tell you about my new hobby. It's math. Specifically, algebra. No, I'm not kidding.

Ever heard of Khan Academy? It's a free online program to teach math and science, with a little art history on the side. I looked into it originally as a tool for homeschooling the Squeaker. He is doing their "early math" course as a supplement to our Singapore Math curriculum, and he is really enjoying it. I set up an account for The Cookie, as well, though since he is so little he can't really do a whole lot more than count.

I discovered that they have courses for higher math, including algebra I and algebra II, geometry, calculus, differential calculus, linear algebra, etc etc. The highest formal math instruction I have is algebra II, which I completed in 10th grade in 1999. I thought I'd brush up on a little bit of algebra, just for fun, so I started their algebra I course. Guess what? I love it!

I am dead serious. I've been factoring polynomials after my kids are in bed as a way to wind down in the evening. Those of you who hated math when you were in school shouldn't scoff - algebra is a completely different ballgame when the pressure to do well on tests and quizzes is gone entirely. In this format, I find it relaxing, interesting, and challenging (at least on par with knitting complicated lace patterns). I literally have nothing to lose, except my time, I suppose. It's not graded, and the program is mastery based and gives you to option to skip around to different skills as your attention span requires.

I remembered a lot of stuff from when I originally learned it when I was 13, but have had to watch a few instructional videos to remind myself how to do things. I've learned some new things, as well. When I'm finished with the algebra I course, I plan to take geometry, and algebra II. Who can say? Maybe I'll get up to differential calculus!


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A basket!

Why, yes, since you asked. I did make that. From willow branches that had fallen from willow trees in my neighborhood. I saw all the willow branches on the ground and thought, "I think I'll try making a basket today." So I did.

Now I have a place for all my onions.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Notes from all over - Nov 2014 edition

When I say "all over," I mean it metaphorically speaking. I haven't literally been very many places in the last little while. I don't want my blog-readers (Like, both of you) to think I'm dead, so here's what's going on:

1) Embarrassing moment #2458: Today was the primary program in our ward. That's when all the kids show the parents what they've learned at Church. I was the Primary Secretary in my ward up until about two weeks ago, so it's become second nature to sing along with all the primary songs. So here I am this morning, sitting way in the back with my two youngest and the Primary kids start singing. I belt out, "How could the Father tell the world/ of love and tenderness?" and it's not until about halfway through the song ("And rise/ with living breath,") that I realize I'm the only one singing. I actually thought to myself, "How come no one else is singing?" Then I realized that it's the Primary Program, DUH, and that the congregation is not supposed to sing.

2) We made it several months with diligently doing work in workbooks every day for the Squeaker's homeschool curriculum. Unfortunately, it has finally dawned on him that workbooks are evil. I've had to be a lot more creative as of late when it comes to educating him. In some ways, we're kind of taking a step back. I've reminded myself that kindergarten is supposed to be mostly playing, anyway. I let him spend a whole morning last week sewing buttons on a piece of scrap fabric. I think he did like nine buttons before he got bored. I don't think I learned how to sew on a button until I was like nine or something, so I think my 5-year-old has definitely got all his button-related bases covered. I know some people in their 20s that haven't yet mastered this skill, so I don't feel at all bad that we skipped handwriting practice that day. Or that week.

3) How cool was Halloween this year? I'll tell you how cool:
You can see the Shieldmaiden's tutued rear end sticking out from behind The Squeaker's elbow. Total money spent at DI for these costumes: $10

Our Jack-o-lanterns. The Squeaker designed both of them himself. What is that small one? Could it be a very small pumpkin?

No! It is a turnip. Did you know the original Jack-o-lanterns were made of turnips? It's true. He carved this without assistance. We put half of a birthday candle in it.

This is a lamassu.
4) Nanowrimo! I'm at 14k words, which is 2k more than I got in 2012, which was the last time I did this. I'm writing about a subject I know a lot about (basically, moving to a new place and being bullied), so this is pretty much writing itself. It's set in a mythical world, however, and there are lamassus in the story.

5) I decided to try my hand at basketweaving on Friday. I have a half-finished basket on my kitchen table, but I haven't touched it all weekend. (This weekend has been crazy. I fell into bed at 9:30 last night, which is almost indecently early for me.)

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Spinning fiber!






A picture is worth a thousand words. These are my new goodies. Glow-in-the-dark spinning fiber, silk, and specialty wools (Jacob and Southdown!)

Monday, October 6, 2014

Child update, Oct 2014

 My grandmother made this dress for my younger sister in 1990. She and my mom worked on it together, and I remember playing with the scraps of fabric to make a "dress" for my doll. I was seven, so the doll garment in question was rather poorly constructed. Here, it is worn by my daughter, the Shieldmaiden. Like her Aunt, she is full of spunk. She has indeed shown an interest in the color pink, dresses, and sparkly shoes, but still loves playing with her brothers' toy cars and my training swords.

The Cookie turned three last week. Here we are making cupcakes, his requested birthday treat. I forgot to take pictures of us decorating and eating them. My philosophy lately has been to enjoy moments as they come instead of worrying about capturing them on camera.  The Cookie has the kindest, gentlest soul of anyone I've ever met. He is starting to learn his letters and loves telling people what letter his name starts with. 

The Squeaker is quite the artist. He started reading short phonics readers recently. Also recently I started reading him chapter books. He is not confident enough in his reading to get through them himself by a long way, but he loves to hear me read them. Here is a list of the books we've read since August:

The Good Master, by Kate Seredy
The Mouse and the Motorcycle, by Beverly Cleary
Runaway Ralph, by Beverly Cleary
The Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Currently we are reading The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. Next on our list is The BFG by Roald Dahl. Even though he's only five, he asks questions about the characters and about the plot that let me know he is really following the story very well.

I sure love these kids. I do still remember with fondness the days when I could have a decent night's sleep and go more than 2 hours without coming into contact with bodily secretions, but these three little people make my life complete. I'll go ahead and brave the poopy diapers if it means I get to cuddle and read to these guys.

All Children Have the Same Imagination

This post is not in any way meant to belittle or cast harsh judgments on other people's parenting. I imagine I'm still going to get some flak for saying what I am about to say in public, however.

So often these days I find myself being one of "Those Parents." You know - one of those moms who say things like, "you can't have that treat because it has High Fructose Corn Syrup. No chocolate for you. Be careful; I don't want you enjoying your childhood too much." I agonize over it a lot. Am I justified in my concerns? Am I making a big deal out of nothing? Am I over-thinking it?

Most of you who know me know that The Husband and I are pretty picky about what we let our kids watch. In the vast corpus of films created for children, the list of what my children have watched is miniscule. They haven't even seen Winnie-the-Pooh! Almost every little boy I know is extremely well-versed in superhero and Jedi lore, except my two boys. Occasionally The Squeaker will say something about Batman, but apart from owning Batman underwear he doesn't actually know who the guy is.

When I expressed concern to The Husband that perhaps in withholding Star Wars from our children that we were stunting their imaginative play, he said, "Our kids' imaginations are fine. The thing with Star Wars and all that pop culture stuff is that it makes all kids have the same imagination."

Holy Sacred Bovine Batman! It's true! How many young Jedi do you find running around, yearning to become Luke Skywalker? How many girls pretend to be some flavor of Disney Princess? And what else is there? Only variations on the same themes. Yesterday afternoon as I was walking around in the neighborhood I saw three little girls playing together: one had an Ariel doll, and two had Rapunzel dolls. Not that there is anything intrinsically evil about having an Ariel doll. I think I actually had two when I was a child and I did not grow up to be a serial killer. The problem is when merchandizing commodifies children's play: when Disney Princesses become the only thing a girl wants to do; when a little boy interacts with the world soley through the lens of Star Wars. I am sad to say that this does, actually, happen. I have seen it.

I know it sounds like I'm being alarmist and putting everything into black and white. But think about it: when was the last time you saw a kid role play or interact with a toy that didn't tie-in with a movie in some way? Even my kids do it, except that they tend to reenact scenes from Bill Nye or Good Eats or Avatar: The Last Airbender (the cartoon.).

That's why I have decided that I'm not over-thinking it when I decide not to let my kids watch Frozen or Spiderman. The influence media has on kids is pretty powerful. I am perfectly happy to keep that influence to a minimum.




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