Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Parenthood is physically arduous

In my last post, I mentioned my new struggle to lose weight. Included in that problem is the fact that I injured a knee earlier this year and have been having trouble getting much exercise that doesn't cause me a lot of pain. The way I injured my knee was that I sat on the sofa minding my own business when my two year old was playing the "dizzy" game. Said two year old spun out of control in her self-induced vertigo and head-butted me in the side of the knee. It hasn't been the same since, but feels OK if I don't do a lot of walking, kneeling, squatting, or stairs. So, once I tried to start my usual walking routine as soon as the baby was able to sit up in a stroller, my knee started giving me serious problems. I am now trying to take it easy as I can with my knee, and also do my prescribed physical therapy to strengthen it. I felt like I was making progress, and would eventually get strong enough to get back to at least a little more exercise than none.

Fast forward to Monday night. Walking through the house to take the recently awakened baby outside where everyone else was, I stepped on a stray toy. I've had some close calls before. This was the real thing. I had a bad fall. Fortunately, I took the brunt of it and the baby was fine (except for for the surprise of finding himself suddenly on the floor). Happy Boy was happy again within five minutes. However, I knew immediately that I could not use my right foot. I had to drag myself to the sliding glass door and call for help. I managed to get myself onto a sofa and prop my foot up. After a rough night of not a lot of sleep, I was finally able to go to the doctor. I was impressed with the speed of the visit. I saw my doctor; after looking at my foot she ordered x-rays; I was wheeled over to that department and barely had to wait. Three x-rays were taken of my foot and digitally delivered back to my doctor. The x-rays beat me back and it wasn't that long of a trip. The doctor saw from the x-rays that I have a chipped or fractured bone in my foot. She said that it could heal on its own, but would heal faster if the foot is immobilized. I was sent home with an ace bandage, a foam sandal, and crutches. All of that took less than an hour. Thursday I have an appointment with the podiatry department to be fitted for an "E-boot," whatever that is.

Ironically, the foot that was injured was on the opposite leg from the bum knee. The problem knee was slightly scraped in the fall, but otherwise has shown no sign of further problems. I also have a couple of bruises. This hasn't been an easy year for my body. I'm in good physical condition otherwise, so that is in my favor. But I have no idea how soon I will be able to put my weight on my foot again.

This will definitely throw off the household routine for a while. It will also make me a stickler for having the kids pick up toys that they are finished playing with. I think that I'll be doing the things that involve sitting down. Reading to the kids, doing schoolwork with our eldest, folding clothes, feeding Happy Boy. For now, my poor husband is going to get first hand experience with all the more active things I do to make the household run smoothly. I am sure he will be at least as eager as I am get things back to normal again.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

I used to hate cooking...

I've noticed a very strange thing happening to me lately. I've been wanting to cook. For most of my life I have hated cooking. Maybe I just absorbed the attitude from my Mom who has always hated cooking. It isn't that I'm a bad cook either. I am a fully competent cook who can make tasty food. I just hated spending my time in the kitchen making yet another meal. There are just so many other things that I would rather spend my time doing. At least that used to be how I was.

For some reason (I think I can blame my last pregnancy), I started wanting to eat lots more baked goods (pies, cakes, cookies, home-made yeast bread, cupcakes ... you get the idea). But, this craving didn't go away. I still have it. I still want to bake. And now, my cooking desire has expanded. I am using my crock pot a lot, since that is easiest with the ages of kids I have, plus the fact that I have all day to just let it cook. I've always been pretty good with soups and don't need a recipe to put a good one together. I've also found, pot roasts can be really yummy. BBQ chicken or pork for sandwiches is an extremely easy meal. I find myself thinking ahead to another good meal to put together. I've been more experimental, throwing together a Thai curry to go over rice that my husband loved, even though it contained winter squash.

The yeast breads, especially, have been fun. This summer I dug out a box that we hadn't unpacked since we moved here nearly four years ago. It was a heavy duty mixer that my Mom had since the 1970's that she used when she would make homemade bread (she went through a super nutritional kick when I was in elementary school). I love that mixer. It has a huge bowl that can easily quadruple an oatmeal cookie recipe (a thick one), without showing signs of overheating. It comes with a wisk attachment for light items (like meringue), a beater attachment for most mixing jobs, and a dough hook for kneading bread. It's one of those machines that could potentially have two dozen attachments for nearly every specialty gadget you would need in the kitchen. In the manual, I remember other attachments listed (a juicer, a meat grinder, a veggieslicer and a blender to name a few). I have found that this machine makes most baking jobs, including home-made yeast bread, easy. I just throw the ingredients in and mix with the beater, then switch over to the dough hook to knead it. Then I take the bowl out and let the bread rise in the bowl. After the bread rises, I punch it down and then roll the dough in my hands into appropriate sizes and pop them straight in the pan. I don't ever have to get that annoying pastry mat out at all. And home baked bread is soooo yummy!

The problem with all of this cooking is that although my appetite is unchanged from when I was pregnant, I haven't been able to get the exercise I need to get my metabolism back to normal and drop those last 15-20 pounds. Added to that, I've been having problems with one of my knees, and walking (which was my usual exercise) aggravates my knee problem. So, all this extra cooking combined with the lack of exercise results in me struggling to lose weight for the first time in my life. Yes, I know, most people will have no sympathy for that. I suppose that I can now understand the majority of the population. But even so, I keep coming up with ideas for new meal ideas.

I also feel fall in the air a little early this year; wouldn't an apple pie taste nice?

I can't seem to help myself.

Sigh... well, at least my husband is enjoying being well fed with tasty things. He doesn't mind the new me at all. Although he does keep asking, "Are you sure you're not pregnant"?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

My dear husband's new blog and a few others

I've added links on my sidebar to some blogs that I like to visit. All of these are currently for people I know personally. One of them is for my dear husband, who just started up a new blog. He sometimes blurts out things that make people uncomfortable, but it was what he was thinking at the moment and figured why not go ahead and say it. He's very transparent that way. Other times he is a joker who has trouble being serious. He was being a class clown during church this morning (maybe it was too many donut holes). But, sometimes (fairly often actually) he can be a very deep thinker about many things, especially the culture in which we live. His blog is titled "Sometimes I'm Actually Coherent." Give it a try and see if you like it.

My dear sister-in-law, and the reason why I got into blogging, has her blog titled "Sweetpea's Patch." She is better with the English language than I am. She is also better at blogging on a wider variety of topics than I. Her blog is worth a look.

The last blog link on my sidebar is authored by my former minister. He and his family are also good friends and officiated at my wedding. He is also a deep thinker and can usually relate daily aspects of life to spiritual matters very clearly. His blog is titled "Randy's Ruminations."

Since I'm still a newbie at this, I don't have a very wide blog browsing range. Some day I'll get a link going to the Carnival of homeschool. It usually has a few meaty articles about homeschooling that I enjoy every week.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

New pseudonym already?!

I decided today that my youngest child needed a different pseudonym. Rug Rat may give an idea of his age and developmental progress, but doesn't tell anything about his personality. He is not rat-like a bit. So after listening to him squeal in delight and chortle with glee over the baby monitor tonight a full fifteen minutes after putting him to bed, "Happy Boy" is a better moniker. He has always been an astoundingly happy kid. He flirts with everyone. He charms the socks off people (old and young alike). Sure he will cry occaisionally, but always for some good reason. Maybe his sister isn't giving him an exciting brightly colored toy that he is sure would be nice to chew on. Or maybe the floor pulled him down and knocked him in the head. But on the whole, he is an eerily happy baby. He was clearly smiling with happiness before his one month birthday... often.

I wonder if he will just continue like this or if his personality will change over the years. His sisters metaphored a bit. His next oldest sister had a continually worried expression as a baby and is now loads of fun. His oldest sister started serene and gradually changed to hypersensitive and is currently an intellectual daydreamer who thinks word problems are polite dinner conversation. I have trouble picturing my son as a nihilistic teenager someday, but I don't know... eighteen years of "Happy Boy" could grate on the nerves occaisionally. Is there anyone else out there with a child who just overflows the normal boundaries of happy?

Saturday, August 11, 2007

First week of school

We've had our first week of school and it went pretty well. But, before I describe how everything went I thought that I would introduce pseudonyms for the kids. They are at least partially age-related so they will have to be adjusted through time. Child number one (girl, age 4) is now going to be referred to as the Pillow-fight Fairy. Child number two (girl, age 2) is now going to be referred to as Adrenalin Junkie. Child number three (boy, age 6 months) is now going to be referred to as Rug Rat. Now that we have this out of the way, back to our original subject: the first week of school.

We had a good start on Monday (one of the busiest school days)and most of the planned for items got done before 10 am. I was very pleased. Tuesday was just the opposite and it was the lightest scheduled day of the week. I don't remember what got us off track. Nevertheless, a good week was had by all. Pillow-fight Fairy and Adrenalin Junkie got to fingerpaint and play with clay. Pillow-fight Fairy's new spelling lessons are currently in a review phase so those will be going fast for a while. She has taken to doing her memory verse for Sunday very well and has completed the first McGuffey Reader. I plan to have her copy out and memorize the poems that were in it. She loves poetry. We also made it to our first Library story-time and checked out some books for the week. A weekly library trip was part of my life growing up when I was in elementary school (and before since I had older brothers) so I would like to do that for my kids as well. Rug Rat had some break throughs this week too. One more tooth and the ability to sit up for extended periods of time count as break throughs for a 6 month old (the tooth especially). He is also doing well with cereal. He's been cleared on rice and oat cereal. Tomorrow we start training on barley. It's an exhausting regimen and he takes two or three naps a day to keep up his energy reserves.

Other items of note: We planted three young shade trees and 36 strawberry plants this week. I told my husband today that our very large backyard is starting to look not quite as empty. This brings our tree-planting total up to 17 since we moved in nearly 4 years ago. It really did need that many trees. We have two more trees planned, but it was the wrong season to get those at our local nursery.

Also, I've nearly got the finances back in order after, well ... the first of the year. As a result, I've decided that the record keeping will need to be computerized in the future. I've done my record keeping and budget planning mostly on paper for the last decade and have now decided that it is too slow, when time is a rare commodity. And since I'm the one in the marriage handling three kids during the day, most meals, homeschooling, and finances, I need a better way to keep up with it so that I don't get so backed up. By the way, if you think that list makes my husband look like a lazy, its not true. He works long days, does most of the yard work, extra projects (like building patio and pathways himself), practicing harp so that he can play for two weddings this summer, and assisting in the clean up of muddy children after an evening of fun in the backyard. That doesn't even count what his responsibilities are at church (song leader and sometimes teacher).

I was also reminded this week why I want to keep the extra activities down fairly low. The above list is a good wake up call. Have you ever sat down and made a list of everything you do. Try it sometime and you will probably surprise yourself and decide that you need a vacation.

That's all for now

Thursday, August 02, 2007

A new year of schooling

Now that we have a school age child the year now seems to have two "new years". There is the first of the year holiday and then there is the new school year. I am a little ambivalent about an official starting and stopping point. Part of me thinks that we've been teaching and learning all along and since we do schooling all year round, what's the point of an official break from one year to the next. But, on the other hand society around us is divided into a fall start school year. When our new "Kindergartener" interacts with other kids her age, parents (and to some extent the kids) want to know what grade she is in or if she is starting Kindergarten this year. I would really prefer to just teach her what she is ready for without concern for what her age group is doing. She was doing some Kindergarten work at this time last year, so is she really in her second year of Kindergarten or is she partially in first grade? We will probably finish her math curriculum early this year. Do I start up grade one math at the end of it or try to stretch it out so that it will better line up with the school year?

I think what we will actually do is take it at the speed that she is comfortable at, keeping in mind that I will be starting up additional subjects with her soon, so that her school day will jump from 30 minutes of structured time to more like 2 hours. I think that I will only care what is grade level up to the point that she masters the subject. Then we will move on. In her church class, she has started the new Kindergarten class with the other Kindergarteners. If she shows in the future that she is emotionally mature enough to move up to where she is academically, then we can worry about jumping a grade. Right now, I think it is more important for her to learn to interact with kids her own age.

All of this is on my mind since we are going to be starting the new school year in our home next Monday. I've got plans. In fact I'm going to try making the lesson plans ahead of time, this year instead of simply record what we did after the fact (like I did last year). I've mentioned that she is doing a Kindergarten level math curriculum. We will also be starting a spelling curriculum that will be reinforcing the phonics lessons she had this last year. She loves to read so we will be doing a mixture of her reading and Mom reading. The stories are springboards for her imagination and she uses bits and pieces to tell stories of her own as well as to use as ideas for her artwork. She will have a weekly chore chart to complete. And, we will try to do art and music every day even though most guidelines I've seen list it as a weekly item. Both of these subjects are important to our family (to the kids too, not just the parents). We will be starting to make a weekly trip to the library for storytime. In September, we will be doing our weekly "MOPS" day (that's Mothers of Preschoolers if you didn't know) where Mommy gets to talk to adults for a change and the kids get supervised age appropriate play time. I have added one extra responsibility on top of it all, by agreeing to be our local chapter's financial secretary.

I'm feeling the pressure already to get my own house in order so to speak, so that I can do this year's homeschooling in addition to an extra outside the home responsibility. And although I only speak of our oldest child as being homeschooled, I will be teaching the others too. Our second child is going to soon be "preschool age" which to me is the age at which most people begin to ask if she is in preschool. She has recently become interested in books and the alphabet. She likes to be read to, and she likes to look at the books herself sometimes. She also wants to draw as much as her sister (though it is currently a mixture of spirals and scribbles). Our youngest, the baby, is about to become mobile. He is currently learning about rice cereal and that Mommy has been using special hand motions when she says certain words. I'm starting to read to him as well. All three kids like it when we go for walks or other outings, so we do that as often as possible. Nothing seems to calm a cranky baby more than to be carried around outside.

There, after writing it all out, it seems like an awful lot to accomplish. I just hope the winter sick season is kind to us this year, but with a child around other kids who attend public school, somehow I suspect it will be more difficult. Oh well, I'll stop borrowing trouble from tomorrow now. If you could spare a few prayers our way, it would be appreciated.