Monday, July 30, 2012

The New Digs

My day has been rather surreal.  Life-changing days always are, aren't they?  Getting married was surreal.  Giving birth (both times) was surreal.  Buying our first house was surreal.  Today just adds to the list of days that I'll look back at and think, "How could it be such a momentous day?  Nothing particularly special happened!"

My mother-in-law agreed to watch my munchkins this morning while Oz and I visited our soon-to-be home and did the final walkthrough.  From there we went to the closing company and signed all the paperwork.  ALL the paperwork.  We were out in less than 45 minutes.  We came back to home (heretofore known as The Old House, or TOH) to let everyone know, then hauled the kids, a bunch of boxes, and my mother-in-law to see our purchase (heretofore known as The New House, or TNH).

I've avoided putting up pictures before now largely because I'm uber-paranoid and have a more-than-is-probably-healthy fear of jinxing myself but also because those photos would have been someone else's and I try to avoid copyright issues.  It's a respect thing.

So here are MY photos of TNH... sans furniture, of course.  Those will come later:

The front

The kitchen (the door on the right is the pantry)

Look!  Oz will have an office instead of working from the laundry room!

The living room... WITH a fireplace :)

The game room upstairs

This is going to be the school room... more pictures after it's all set up!

M1's room

M2's room, complete with...

Her own vanity that connects to the upstairs bath
So that's the house in a photographic nutshell.  We filled our van twice today and brought over a fair amount of stuff... boxes of books, extra clothes, bathroom essentials and some kitchenware that I won't need between now and this weekend.  Tomorrow we're going to get a small U-Haul and empty out our storage unit and bring over as much small furniture as the van will hold, provided none of us collapse from the heat.

The kids are absolutely fascinated with the place, even more so now that it's actually ours, and I've already seen neighbor kids stalking the house to see whether our kids might fit their particular gender/age demographic.  It's a big change from living in the country where there are literally no other kids their age anywhere on the street... and you couldn't walk to their houses safely if you wanted!

Thanks to everyone who has put up with all the posts about the house over the past six months.  The journey is almost over, and I, for one, am very glad.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Those "Teachable Moments"

I don't go looking for "teachable moments."  Learning just happens.  It's an organic thing.  However, those big learning moments seem to happen most often...

in the car.

Today we were on our way home from M1's swim team practice.  M1 asked if we had to go anywhere else today (no) and then asked if he could earn some electronics time by doing a chore for me.  "Yes," I said. "You can wash the dishes."

M2 wanted to earn electronics time of her own by drying the dishes, and I agreed to that, too.

"Awesome!" M1 chirped.  "I'm finally learning! Good things have good consequences and bad things have bad consequences!"

About bloody time... I've been trying to teach him that for years.  Then M2 piped up again.  "Mom?  Can you even have good consequences?  I thought consequences meant bad things, like getting electronics taken away, not earning them."

Clearly the girl has been paying attention to what most often happens to her brother and electronics.  I'm cautiously optimistic that we can return his electronics to him after we move and he won't abuse the privileges.  Fingers crossed.


"Not quite," I replied. "A consequence is anything that happens because of something else.  But the word often has a negative connotation."

I love using big words with my kids.  I love that they don't even try to pretend they know what they mean; they just ask.  "What's connotation?" were the next words out of M2's mouth, echoed shortly after by M1.

After I explained what connotation meant, they had a lot of fun coming up with words on the way home.  Fluffy has a positive connotation; ugly has a negative connotation.  After a few minutes, they asked why connotations were important.

"A lot of it has to do with writing and speaking.  Connotation helps you pick just the right words for what you're trying to say.  It's just one of those literature terms."

"What's literature?" M2 wanted to know.  I explained.  She was still curious.  Awesomeness.  "So are all books literature?"

"Well, no," I admitted.  "Some books just aren't.  And there are things that can separate brain-candy books from literature.  All books have some elements of literature, though.  Like the parts of a story."

M1's eyes lit up.  "I remember the parts of a story!"  At that point, he launched into an explanation of problem, rising action, climax, and denouement/resolution and even broke the book "The Chocolate Touch" into all those parts.  I was proud as punch.

Literature?  Why, yes.  We do that here.  Sort of.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Few Random Things

1.  We close on our new house next Monday.  I'm still feeling bittersweet about it, but I'm excited, too.  It's weird to think that this is our last full week in this house.  It's also weird to think that I'm moving into a house that's actually younger than my son, because I was pregnant with him when we moved into our current house, which means that when he was born, our new house was just a twinkle in an architect's eye.  (Does that make any sense??)  Oz and I have spent many an hour discussing what furniture will go where and how we want the new house set up.  Obviously we can't figure it all out beforehand, but we have lots of ideas.

2.  A few weeks ago a brand-new lens on my brand-new camera got broken, so I took it into the camera shop to be sent in for repairs since it's still under warranty.  They told me it would be four weeks before it got returned, but I got a call today saying it's already back.  I'm happy, mostly because that means I can take pictures of the new house soon!

3.  In the past month and a half, I've lost 6.5 lbs.  I've been trying to lose this weight for years.  It's thrilling.  I'm hopeful that I'll have the space to exercise once we're in the new house.  I don't exercise in front of people, and my children do enjoy playing 'cheerleader.'  It's not helpful.

4.  M1 has his last swim meet of the summer tonight.  There won't be another meet until fall.  Last week he did very well in his heats and very nearly won one; the winning kid even pointed out how close of a race it had been.  I'm proud of his progress.

5.  I saw a list of public school start dates on the news the other day.  It won't be long before everyone will be back into the swing of the school year.  I really need to figure out somewhere to take the kids on a regular basis.  M2 has already been asking when we're going to see some friends again.  Being an introvert, this is tough for me.  I'll have to work something out!

6.  It's still disgustingly hot outside.  I know a large part of the USA is dealing with the same issue, and there are lots of places where the drought is worse than here, so I won't really gripe.  I'll just say that I'm tired of seeing the plants die, tired of swimming pools that feel like bathtubs, tired of the unrelenting heat that causes unrelenting electric bills, and just plain tired of the heat.  I love summer, but a month of 100+ degree days does wear a body down.

7.  I love having a wide range of friends, from the ultra-conservative to the ultra-liberal, Roman Catholic to evangelical to atheist, but sometimes that wears a body down, too.  Let's just say I'll be glad when the presidential election is over.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Sign of the Times

Even the cat is tired of waiting.

The move, obviously, is still on.  We haven't run into any major snags yet.  We've done the inspections on the house we're buying, and we've had inspections (and repairs) done here.  Today I got an e-mail from our realtor that said we're ready to schedule closing, which is both scary and really, really exciting.

We're two weeks out now.  The end is in sight... and now that it's actually happening, it can't happen fast enough!

Sunday, July 15, 2012


I finally managed to update the curriculum links on the left as well as the curriculum page here on the site!  After a long weekend where I don't feel like I accomplished much, this feels a lot like progress!

In the words of a famous (pseudo-)homemaker, "It's a good thing."

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Day Two, Infinitely Better

Things I have discovered about teaching M2 (already):

1.  She likes routine... as long as there is some amount of chaos involved.  She likes that I printed off a list of what we will be doing this week, but she also likes that I let her pick what order she does things in.  M1 does things in the same order every. single. day.  M2 does not.  They're doing history and science and some electives (art, languages, etc.) together, so we do have to coordinate those, but other than that, she gets to pick.

2.  She adores science.  I knew she liked math and art, but since she'd never really shown an interest in any science other than anatomy (she's always had a love of finding out how the human body works), I had no idea how excited she would get about discovering that hot air is lighter than cold air and being able to explain WHY.  I love having two STEM-oriented children!

3.  She has amazing penmanship and loves to write.  After dealing with my somewhat dysgraphic son for the last three years, it's shocking to see a paper covered in picture-perfect printing.  She loves Writing With Ease because copywork gives her the chance to show off and after we got done with school today, she got out a notebook that she has self-designated her journal so she could write some more.  Fascinating.

I've also had my suspicions confirmed that she is a very visual/kinesthetic learner; her reservations about Math Mammoth are already dissolving, and I think she'll adore geography as much as I do.  When we were reading about the Crystal Palace for the Great Exhibition in London, she wanted to see a picture.  I found one, and we colored a map, and those things helped the story stick in her head more than anything else that I read or did.  I like knowing what makes my little girl tick!

Right now she's very enthusiastic, and I'm sure some of that will go by the wayside as we progress.  I can tell that M1 enjoys having her here while he works, even though it drives him crazy that she likes to talk while she works and he's very, very used to having peace and quiet.  Having a second child at home definitely has breathed new life into our homeschool; I just hope I can keep them happy!

Monday, July 9, 2012

The First Day Back, and Self-Esteem

Oh, my.  It's our first day back and we've already had our first big meltdown.  In a way, I think I knew it was coming.  Every time M2 even looks at a math page (we're using Math Mammoth with her), she flips out.  Today she lost it about art.  Both of these are subjects that she loves, but because she loves them, she has very - extremely - high expectations for herself, and she won't cut herself any slack at all.

It makes it difficult to teach her these subjects.

I have absolutely no art background, so usually my idea of art is to hand over the supplies and say, "Go to it!"  For this reason, I use Artistic Pursuits, and today's art project was simply to do a watercolor painting.  Often M1 needs direction for his art, so I suggested that the kids paint a scene from around the house to remember it by.  M1 sat on the front porch and painted the tree in the front yard.  He painted the grass and the birdbath and a sunset.  His colors are vibrant, and his brush strokes show familiarity with the medium, but not everything is recognizable if you don't know what things are.  Art is not his thing, but over the past few years we've done enough watercolor paintings for him to be comfortable with them.  M2 painted the house, the tree in the front yard, and a big, beautiful bird bath.  She did a great job!  Her colors were slightly paler, but I thought they complemented each other wonderfully, and everything is definitely well-defined.  However, when she looked up and saw that her painting was different than M1's, she lost it.  She started crying that hers wasn't as good.  Why?  Because it was different.  No amount of encouragement will convince her otherwise.  When asked if she did her best, the answer was, "No," because it wasn't as "good" as M1's, because it was different, because she didn't use the same colors, because his sky is better and his grass is greener.

Oh, my.

I hadn't thought that leaving her in school was doing so much for her self-esteem... and maybe it hasn't had much of an impact, because in all likelihood this is just a manifestation of where she is in her mood cycle right now. I've already noticed, though, that I have to do a lot more hand-holding than I did with M1, even when he first came home.  She is so, so fragile, and her self-esteem seems to lie in how well she compares to others, not in how well she does on her own.  If she doesn't come up with the same answers or same sentences or apparently the same painting as her brother, then she doesn't feel like she measures up.

So we've had lots of tears today.  She's told me that she isn't sure about homeschooling now, because it is definitely different than she's used to - I think that even though we've had some 'practice' days in the past when she's been home, she didn't quite understand how it would be - and she doesn't know all the answers and she doesn't like that.  I'm going to have to make sure to take it easy for quite a while to de-school her.  My poor girl... she needs a boost.  She needs to love her own way of thinking.  She needs to love her own output.

She needs to love herself.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Countdown to Chaos

Boxes are starting to fill my home.  From where I sit, I can see three different stacks because I'm trying to keep them out of the walkways for as long as possible.  There is a stack in the hall and another in the kitchen.  So far I've packed up things like knick-knacks, the china, extra coffee mugs, extra linens and pillows, and appliances I won't be using in the next three weeks.  The kids have picked out some books to read, and I've packed the rest.

We had inspections done here on Friday afternoon.  We have a few things to fix but thankfully nothing major.  Inspections for our new house are scheduled late this week.  We're not expecting to find anything big, but you never know.  Once those things are taken care of, we get to wait on the appraiser.  Then we get to wait on the title information.  And in the meantime, I'm supposed to be educating the children because our first school day is tomorrow.  We may or may not take a week off while we're moving; I haven't entirely decided yet.

Once we get into our new place (knock on wood, etc., etc.), my mom, sister and I are headed up to visit my grandmother.  She's decided that she wants to move to an assisted living facility... before winter.  In her mind, this means September or October.  It's a facility with studio apartments, and she gets to bring her own furniture, but it's still a studio apartment, not a house.  My mom, sister and I have to make sure the facility is going to be a good fit, get her moved, and then go through everything in the house and sell, give away, or otherwise dispose of all the furniture, goods and detritus that accumulates throughout 88 years of living... and that includes the car and the house.  I'm not really looking forward to this, for many reasons.  It's odd and uncomfortable to be talking about getting rid of so many things when their owner is still around to hear about it.

I'm also waiting on word from my sister.  Her husband had a phone interview for a job out of state (WAY out of state), and if he gets it, they'll have to be moved by mid-August.  For their sake, I hope he gets it, because it sounds like it would be a perfect fit, but at the same time, I don't want my sister to be so far away!

I'm taking things one day at a time right now, because if I try to look too far ahead, I'll have a full-on nervous meltdown and simply won't function.  I'm one minor catastrophe away from the Land of Straitjackets and Valium.  I don't handle stress well, and moving myself is bad enough - I wasn't planning on EVERYONE moving this year, know what I mean?

I will make it through this, I will make it through this...

Monday, July 2, 2012

Things That Make You Go AWWWWW...

When we decided to put the house on the market, Oz, the kids and I went up to a nearby greenhouse to pick out a hanging plant for our front porch.  We liked several baskets, but in the end I settled on some beautiful pink double impatiens.  We hung them up, and for a while they did great.  

At this point, though, due to time, the length of the plant roots, and the heat, the whole thing needs to be repotted.

I'm not going to do it.  And when we move, the plant will stay.


This was the view inside our plant a few weeks ago.  Three perfect little eggs in a perfect little house finch nest.

A week after that, there were five eggs.

Earlier this week, Oz went to check and found this:

The little baby thought Oz was Mama Bird that had come back with food.  I love having the babies on our front porch!  I'm going to miss them dreadfully when we go, though, because I won't get to see them fledge.

Still... photos are better than nothing.  Be safe and grow strong, Little Ones!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Home, Sweet... Oh, Wait

On June 21 (my darling Oz looked it up because I thought it was July - his memory is far better than mine for these details), he and I had officially lived in this house for 10 years.  When we moved in, I was 6 months pregnant with M1.  I thought it was miserable when we moved because it was 90-something and humid outside.

I'm very glad I'm not pregnant this time.  Not sure my system would take the strain under 100+ degree heat.

Anyway, we've been totally content in this house for the last decade.  It's met our needs well, and it's been a beautiful home in which to live.  We took out some gardens and put in others.  We added fences and subtracted trees.  We remodeled the bathroom entirely and updated the master bedroom, the hall, and the dining rooms.  The children have been happy here and we've created some fantastic memories.

Now, however, it is time to go.  We got an offer on our house last week.  It was lower than we wanted, but our realtor suggested that we counter-offer anyway.  We did, haggled back and forth a little, and finally settled on a mutually (mostly) acceptable price.  We will no longer own this house by the end of August.

As soon as we had our offer, our realtor told us that we would be "joined at the hip" until we found a place that WE wanted.  We checked out half a dozen homes over two days, found several that looked gorgeous in photos but weren't maintained at all, found two that we liked, and picked one.  We made an offer yesterday.  Haggle, haggle, haggle... we sign the final contract tomorrow.  We will own that home by the end of July or very early August, giving us several weeks to get in and settled.  (It does also mean that we'll have one month of paying two mortgage payments, which makes me slightly nauseous, but there are worse things in life, I suppose).

Our new house, assuming all goes well, will be twice the size of our current house.  Right now we have the following rooms:  Laundry room (doubles as an office), kitchen, dining room, living room (doubles as a school room), hall, three bedrooms, and the bathroom.  Our new house, again assuming all goes well because I really, really don't want to jinx anything here, will have a laundry room, an office, a kitchen with a casual dining area, a living area, a formal dining room, three bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, a school room which is actually a fourth bedroom but I need a school room more than a spare bedroom, and a game room.  I can't wait to take pictures.

The kids are of mixed minds about moving.  On the one hand, they're thrilled about all the new spaces and amenities that the new place will have; on the other, they're really going to miss this one.  I will, too.  We're going to talk about it a lot, take a lot of 'final' photos, and make sure they're part of the process every step of the way.

It's a big move.  Bittersweet.  But it's time.  Time for a new home, sweet home!