Thursday, December 30, 2010

blog therapy/introducing princess leia

I should say right off that I am writing this blog post as therapy.  I am watching the Kansas State/Syracuse football game, and I'm stressed out.  I find it best to engage in other activities while being stressed out during football games, so today it's blogging. 

Just don't be surprised if I interject loud wails of frustration (or excitement, although at this point it's all frustration). 

Syracuse just scored a touchdown.
Boo.  Boo.  Boo. 

So, let's talk about something happy.
Here's happy: puppy breath.
Ah, is there anything sweeter than puppy breath (besides baby breath, perhaps). 
Yes, indeed, we have puppy.
Introducing to the world...
Princess Leia

Is she cute or is she cute?????????
Molly isn't quite so sure. 

Guess how I am feeling today?
Sleep-deprived.  A new puppy is like a new baby.  The last time we had a new puppy I was in grad school.  That wasn't so easy, either, but I have a feeling this will be more overwhelming and exhausting. 
The puppy belongs to the kids, but I can't make them play night-duty, can I? 
No.  Probably not. 
She actually did really well last night until 3:00, and then I was up with her like...every 20 minutes.  Argh. 

Here's Leia's story...
On Christmas morning, the kids had a letter on the cookie plate from Santa.  The letter stated that they were going to receive one more present that wasn't ready quite yet, and we were instructed to drive to a house in Pleasant Hill, ask for Grannie Karen, and pick up their present on Wednesday evening.  We knew better than to disobey Santa's orders, so we dutifully loaded ourselves up last night and drove down to Pleasant Hill.  We walked in the door, and there was a puppy!  The kids were overwhelmed with happiness and excitement and disbelief. 
They think Santa is a pretty nice guy.

And now...we have Princess Leia, our cute little Jack Russell. 
Thankfully we still have her.  My dear friend Tara came by to see us earlier today, and I thought she might sneak her out in her sweatshirt.  I had to watch her carefully as she headed out the door.  At the moment she is tucked into Matt's vest and is sleeping through her first K State football game. 

I should interject here that Amélie keeps giving me rather reproachful looks, because apparently I am too loud during football games, which could adversely affect Leia's puppy sleep. 
I say that as soon as she is sleeping through the night she can complain all she wants about my loud football vocalization.

I suppose I should go back to the football game.  I think in the time I have written here K State has scored a touchdown.  But so has Syracuse. 
At least we have the ball now.
And we have another first down!

OH!  OH!  OH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We have a first down at the 16-yard line. 
I bleed purple through and through, but seriously.........I get myself way, way too emotionally involved.  I can't just step back...relax...and watch the game. 
I am way too intense.
way too passionate.
way too emotionally invested.
which sums up my life, pretty much.  :)
that's ok.
life is intense.
and passionate.
and chock full of emotional investment.
I'm all in.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Christmas rush is over.  The season has been celebrated.  Time has been spent with family.  Memories have been made.  Excessive chocolate has been eaten.  Presents have been opened. 

And now we look ahead to the new year. 

I'm a sucker. 
I like the promise of a new year.
I like the idea of starting over.
I like the idea of waking up on January 1st a new person.
I know life doesn't work that way.

I know I won't wake up on January 1st totally fit, negative 25 pounds, and craving cauliflower.
But still...I fall for it every time: the promise, the hope, the anticipation.

Do you make New Year's resolutions?
What might they be?

I have already started thinking about this process, this journey of promise and hope and anticipation.
And failure, you might say.
Well, yes, failure.
But let's not talk about failure right now.
Let's talk about the promise and hope and anticipation.  Let's talk about what I'm going to change in my life this next year.
Please try not to be cynical.  I do such a good job being cynical.  Really, I can muster up enough cynicism for the both of us.  So for now, let's just focus on the positive.
And don't laugh at me for stubbornly believing that change is possible.

I have a lot more thinking to do, but here are the ways, so far, that my life is going to change this next year.
  • Writing.  I'm going to write.  Matt bought me a new desk for Christmas.  It is small.  It looks a bit old-fashioned, in a lovely sort of way.  It sits against a window in my living room.  It's perfect.  He says he will take it back if I don't sit at it and write.  He wouldn't do that, of course.  But still.  Right now I am sitting on the couch.  And I keep stealing glances at the promise that exists at that desk.  I can't write so much right now about writing.  It's something I am pondering and dreaming about and am talking little about.  I just can't.  I might talk more about writing here.  I might not.  Hmmmm....  Let's just say that this year I am going to write.
  • Reading.  I love to read.  Matt accused me last night of having a secret love affair with literature.  I informed him it wasn't really a secret.  I love to read.  I love literature.  But here's the thing: I realized that I feel guilty when I read for pleasure.  Therefore, when I read, I often read to learn. Now don't get me wrong.  I love to read to learn.  I love reading about parenting and birth and eating healthy foods and politics and religion.  I really do.  But those books feed my mind.  I need books to feed my soul.  At night before bed I have been leisurely reading through Mary Oliver's new book of poetry.  The first night I read through the book there were tears trickling down my face.  It wasn't so much that the poems themselves were emotionally moving, although some were.  It was just that...her words were beautiful and moving and lyrical.  And my soul responded.  And I cried.  I am going to spend this year feeding my literature-starved soul.
  • Music.  I love music.  This holiday season I have absolutely loved listening to The Messiah.  Again.  And again.  And again.  It's beautiful.  That music, like the literature I love, feeds my soul.  I also love folk music.  I am, as of last week, obsessed with Ingrid Michaelson.  Really obsessed with her.  I have to listen to her album at least once a day, and when I think no one is looking I hit repeat.  One aspect of folk music that I love is close harmony.  Yesterday I took a bath (merry christmas to me!!) and listened to Girlyman.  I was reading Anne Lamott, whom I love, and then I would stop reading to listen (and, OK, to sing along) during some amazing harmony, and my soul was singing at least as loudly as my voice.  I am going to spend this year savoring the music that I love. 
And there is more.  But that's it for now. 
I can only allow myself promise and hope and anticipation in small doses. 

Friday, December 24, 2010

merry christmas

If, as Herod, we fill our lives with things, and again with things; if we consider ourselves as so unimportant that we must fill every moment of our lives with action, when will we have the time to make the long, slow journey across the desert as did the Magi? Or sit and watch the stars as did the shepherds? Or brood over the coming of the child as did Mary? For each one of us, there is a desert to travel. A star to discover. And a being within ourselves to bring to life (Author Unknown)

Friday, December 17, 2010

My Tiny Planets--TOS Review

My Tiny Planets is a big website with equally large credentials and endorsements.  It was co-created by Sesame Workshop and has been endorsed by Montessori International.  It has also won two BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) awards – Interactive Best Entertainment Website and Best Children's Interactive.  Quite admirable, I'd say!

Here's the rundown:

Tiny Planets TV:  Here you can watch the Tiny Planets television episodes.  Their website notes that Tiny Planets TV "emphasizes science education and early learning goals, such as social and emotional development, language and literacy, problem-solving and reasoning, knowledge and understanding of our world, and creative development." 
Both Amélie and Jack enjoyed the TV episodes.  Bing and Bong are a nicely-wrapped cartoon package of lovable, entertaining, and educational!  The first episode is free, but additional episodes cost a certain number of keys.  Keys can be purchased in the parent account for the following amounts:
10 keys: $1.95
25 keys: $3.95
85 keys: $9.95
250 keys: $25.95
600 keys: $49.95

My Tiny Planets is an online community and virtual world where kids can create an avatar (their "space cadet") and "solve galactic missions with Bing and Bong, sharpen their wits with fast-paced mini-games, navigate their spaceships and avoid wormholes, adopt and care for their own planet, and nurture exotic plants in a biodome, all the while racking up achievements and special badges for their accomplishments." 
Amélie especially liked adopting and caring for her own planet (I mean, who wouldn't like to create their own planet???).  She got a little tired of the games that required spaceship navigation (I think she wished for a little more variety, perhaps?), and sometimes she got a little confused as to what she was supposed to do.  I should confess right now that I am not a fan of computer games, so I honestly don't like to figure out how to do things Amélie can't decipher.  I probably could have figured things out faster if I had a teeny, tiny bit more patience (maybe). :)

Tiny Planets Fun is a spot where kids can "enjoy brainy puzzle games (like fractions, sound and seek, and symmetry), as well as coloring books and comics."  The TV episodes are also on this site.

Amélie likes games, so she had fun deciphering the puzzles.  I liked it that the games were educational and were helping her learn concepts and symmetry in a fun way. 
"On Tiny Planets Books you'll find interactive story books for younger children featuring Bing and Bong, their friends the locals and the flockers, and all the endearing planets in the Universe of Tiny Planets. Read these books with your child, or teach your child to read on their own!" 
My kids really, really enjoy digital books (which kind of makes me a bit crazy, if you want to know the truth).  I have an app that downloads a free kids' book every day, and they are always clambering to be the first one to get to read it.  As such, they enjoyed these books, and it was fun that they had the connection of Bing and Bong from the TV Series and the games.  You can read two books for free and then purchase additional books with keys.

Tiny Planets Labs is the spot where kids can try out the games that are in the testing phase.  Amélie had fun trying out the games, although she seemed to have more fun checking out the other parts of this site.

"Tiny Planets Learning is the site for parents, homeschoolers, and educators. Here you'll find lesson plans that include educational activities and science experiments to do at home. Also, you'll see how every episode in the Tiny Planets television series maps to early learning goals."
OK, I have a confession to make.  I didn't spend very much time on this portion of the site.  The thing is...I already have my hands full doing our rather time-intensive curriculum, and I chose to use this site as a fun site for my kids...with the added perk that it was also educational.  However, it looked like there was some great information here for parents who might want to take what is offered on this website one step further.

Whew!  That was A LOT of information!  It is a huge site, though, and it takes awhile to navigate, figure out, and unlock its fun potential.  We have enjoyed having this site to play with.  One of my favorite parts is that much of it is free.  There are definitely more things to do if you purchase the keys, but it's not like some sites that I know Amélie has gotten really frustrated with because it seems like all of the fun stuff requires money.  It was fun having some keys to use up (we received 25 keys to use), and I would say it would be worth it to purchase extra keys, but I honestly am not sure that I would do so.  However, I have never bought any extra stuff on a game site, so that could just be me and how I operate.  :)

If you would like to see what my other crewmates are writing about this site, you can check out their reviews here.

Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew I was provided a free copy of this product for my honest evaluation. Aside from the 25 keys deposited into my account, I was given no other compensation for this review.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

my Christmas poem...

I don't pretend to be a poet.  I'm more of a poetic prose kind of girl.  However, this poem won me 100 bucks two years ago, so I'm reposting it. 
(Just don't sing it to the tune of "Oh, Christmas Tree," because it doesn't work.)

Oh, Christmas Tree. Oh, Christmas Tree.
How lovely are your branches.
My little son pulls you down
In ornamental avalanches.

The fat little Santa from my first year
The bulb from my great-grandma
Are crushed and how I long to cry
With loud holiday drama.

The next morning, though, I awake
With sweet anticipation.
The art of cookies must be passed
Down to the next generation.

Hours later I emerge
Sticky and flour-y and sick,
And decide that perhaps next year
A bakery might just do the trick.

I decide to go and Christmas shop.
My babysitter bails.
We scuttle from the mall
Amid toddler tantrums, screams, and wails.

We escape the mall as fast as I,
My bags, and child are able.
I decide we need to spend some time
With the baby in the stable.

In awe I lead him by the hand
To gaze with reverence at the manger.
I do not know that holy child
Is cloaked in mortal danger.

The baby curled up in the hay
Looks like a soft, fun ball.
In horror I watch as with delight
Jack hurls him down the hall.


I could give you cookie crumbles
Or a half-wrapped Christmas gift,
But instead let’s think about
How my priorities need to shift.

So I will wrap up for you
Some faith, family, hope, and joy.
These gifts will last much longer
Than a transient Christmas toy.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

blog reconciliation

I haven't posted anything besides a review on here in so long that I don't even know what to say anymore. There is sort of this awkwardness that exists now between myself and my blog.  We don't quite know what to say to each other.  My blog is sick of hearing my excuses for not posting.  I feel a lot of guilt, so I just tend to avoid our relationship.  Maybe we need therapy. 

A blog is so tricky, really.  I came home from a meeting with someone a few weeks ago, and I had so much to process.  Normally, I would hash it out with Matt after the kids were in bed, but he had the audacity to go meet some guy from Canada for sushi that night after the kids were in tucked in, so I didn't have my usual sounding board.  I tried to journal, but my thoughts were flying so fast that my pen couldn't keep up.  I opened up a "New Post" window here, but it was really too personal (and fresh and unprocessed) to post publicly.  I didn't know what to do with myself!
I think I actually ended up just talking to myself.  That worked pretty well, but if just wasn't the same.

Do you talk to yourself?  I don't mean muttering things like, "Now where the heck did I put those keys?" but like a real conversation, like talking to yourself as if that self were sitting beside you in the passenger seat while you were driving.  I am a big fan of talking to myself.  If you ever drive up beside me, please don't tell me at a later date what I look like, because then I will have to hold my phone up to my ear or something to make it look like I am actually talking to someone.  Maybe it is a wee bit crazy, but if I am by myself, a rare enough occasion in itself, chances are I have a lot of unfinished thoughts in my brain that need to be thought through.  And the easiest way to do that is to talk out loud.  If I think inside my head, then my brain will wander 20,000 different directions, and I won't ever complete a thought. 

I really didn't mean to write a post on talking to myself.  I didn't really mean to write a post on anything.  I'm just breaking the silence and trying to reestablish a relationship with my blog.  I hope this is a first step towards getting back together again.  I'm uncomfortable with our awkward silence and am hoping for a reconciliation.

Friday, December 10, 2010

TOS Review--Good Morning, God

I am always happy when we receive a book in the mail to review (I think I've mentioned that on here before once...or twice...or more).  :)  One afternoon I went out to my mailbox and found a copy of the book Good Morning, God by Davis Carman and published by Apologia Press.  Even before I read the book my kids liked to sit down and look at the pictures.  The illustrations, by Alice Ratterree, are absolutely beautiful.  In fact, the illustrations were my favorite part of the book.

The idea of the book is good.  It is based Deuteronomy 6:6-7, which says "These commands that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.  Impress them on your children.  Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up."  The story then repetitively threads the ideas from these verses throughout the book in a story of one family's dweekly activities.  At the end of the book, a little study guide is included with some ideas of activities to do with kids each day of the week.  I like children's stories with repetition, and Jack especially loves stories with repetition, but I did not think that the story flowed very well.  I tend to like repetition in books when it is more lyrical (or maybe rhythmical is a better word to use), but the repetition in the book seemed a bit clunky to me. 

One great aspect of the book, as a homeschooling family, is that the family in the book is a homeschooling family as well!  That doesn't happen very often!  Amélie noticed that right away, and she liked the connection.  Honestly, my kids really did like this book.  It is probably a bit young for Amélie to want to listen to more than once, but Jack has brought it to me several times to read to him, so he seems to give it a thumbs up.  Maybe I should have let him write the review.  :) 

If you would like to purchase this book, you can do so here for $14.00.  You can also purchase an accompanying coloring book for $4.00, which I think would be a nice supplement.

If you would like to see what my other TOS Crewmates had to say about these books check out their reviews here.

Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew I was provided a free copy of this product for my honest evaluation. I was given no other compensation for this review.