Friday, February 12, 2016

Overheard in the Elementary School

We're incubating eggs in Science class (which is in the library) right now, so I get to hear all about the life cycle of a chicken.  Last week 3rd graders were discussing the age old question "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?"  One student answered-

"We do too know the answer to that question!  It was probably like a Jesus chicken or something, that came down and started all the other chickens".

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Ash Wednesday

Every year I look for a video or something for Ash Wednesday, and every year this video wins.

Every year I feel vaguely bad posting since the illustrator is not the one who made the video, but I just found a link to purchase a book of the drawings.  So at least that's something I can share to give credit where credit is due.


Monday, February 08, 2016

2015 Year in Review

I forgot about these, and then ran into them today when looking for something else.  Every year we print them out from 30HandmadeDays and fill them out on New Years Eve.  Then every year I forget to do something with them.  Hmph.  This year, at least, I printed pictures to put in the photo album, and if nothing else, we can find them here next year.  

Friday, February 05, 2016

Katie is five.

Tomorrow this sweet girl is five.

I had fun looking back at these posts from when she was new.

Katie Comes Home

Katie Lesson #1

Katie Lesson #2

Katie Lesson #3

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Lent 2016

Next Wednesday, February 10, is Ash Wednesday.  Early this year-but-big win-Valentine's Day is on a Sunday, so even if you give up candy, you're ok as long as you view each Sunday as a little mini-Easter.  There are both sides to that, of course, but it's so sad when Valentines Day is during Lent, so at least for that Sunday, we'll be feasting.

Here are a few posts with some interesting ideas about what to do for Lent:

Outside the Box: 66 Things to Give Up or Take Up for Lent (in beginner, intermediate, and advanced)

The most "successful" lent we've ever had, MJL and I both only drank milk and water.  It was horrible, and we're never ever doing that again, but we did learn that we're most likely to stick with something if we do it together.  So we have to agree on something.

We will trade our usual TV after the kids are in bed for something else.  MJL got Robert Barron DVD's for Christmas, and we'll probably watch those.  We watched the Catholicism series last year and it was fantastic.  Honestly, I think anyone would love it-it was fascinating, and I think would be interesting and thought provoking for all Christians.   It's mostly Christian Theology that everyone agrees with, I think.  I'd be happy to lend our set to anyone who wants to watch it.  

Last year we had a box for the Emmaus House, and we took turns taking something out of the pantry every day and putting it in.  It was a simple thing that even the littlest kids could do, so I think we'll do that again.  

Anna wants to go to confession weekly.  I don't know if we can get to town for that, but we're going to try.  

Katie loves to pray the Rosary and it is hard hard hard with all of these wiggly people and busy schedules, so we're going to try to pray a Rosary every week.  Hopefully we can manage a decade a day on most days.  

I'm putting away some toys-we'll just have the basket of Magna-Tiles out upstairs.  They've been away since Christmas, and I'm hoping having them out alone will inspire some new kinds of play.  

What are you thinking about for Lent this year?

Monday, February 01, 2016

Thoughts on Energy

I haven't been getting much done lately.

I've been feeling awfully tired in the afternoons, and in the evenings after the kids go to bed, and I don't like it, because I don't trust it.  It doesn't quite feel like actual fatigue, more like laziness, and not doing things that I know will help me to feel better, and giving in to grouchiness instead of taking a deep breath and being kind.  

So I've been thinking about what to do about it.  

My strategies in the past have been to take a deep breath, say to myself "I have so much energy!" instead of "I'm so tired" (thanks Dylan via Chelsea!), to have a drink of water, to go to the bathroom (I'm so bad about that) and to go outside for a little bit.  All of those things are good, but they're not quite enough right now.  

I know that I get energy from getting things done.  Making something, tidying up, crossing something off of a list, sorting through something, taking out the trash, doing the dishes, all of these things, some much more fun than others, give me energy.  I feel happier and more energetic the more productive I am. 

I read an article last week, while sitting by the fire, that really got me thinking.  Take Action! starts with the interesting correlation between increased time watching cooking shows and decreased time actually cooking.  People experience vicarious satisfaction just by watching or seeing or reading about something, and have less motivation to actually do it.  It's the same idea I was talking about at the beginning of the month in my Winter 2016 post.  

Then the article shifts into one of my favorite things, what I think of as pop culture brain research (Not that it's not real research, it's just that it's brain research about things like how people learn, or motivation, or impulse control, the sorts of things that I'm interested in).  

"This isn’t just my own crazy idea, either. It’s backed up by the science of mirror neuronsMirror neurons describe a phenomenon that happens in our brains whenever we watch someone else completing a task; to an extent, our brain fires in the same way as though we ourselves have completed that task."

And what do I do when I'm "tired" and can't manage to do the things I ought to do?  Or the things that I know will give me energy, like making something, or getting something done and crossing it off of a list?  I'm looking at pinterest by the fire, or reading a blog about what someone else has done, or reading about a new recipe or cooking technique, or looking at instagram pictures of what's going on in other people's lives.  It's fun, sure!  And I don't think it's evil or anything, but I do think it's what's sucking my energy.  Whatever part of the brain gets pleasure from seeing those things, it's not the same part of my brain that gives me energy.  Maybe it's the sitting that's the problem!   

A few days later I read this article about How to Read 100 Books a Year and I've decided to apply some of the ideas-but in a different context-sewing.  I love to sew, it makes me happy and gives me energy and when I make it happen I'm always glad.  His five big tips are:

1. Buy In Bulk--I already have enough fabric, patterns, and ideas to sew forever, so I think this is already covered.  
2. A(always) B(e) R(eading)--Always have a project going.  Usually I finish one, and then clean up, and then feel like I ought to do something else first, something more "important" or less fun for some reason.  I'm going to try to stop that.  I can spend a little time each day on something fun.  Certainly more fun than looking at my phone anyway.  
3. Read Relevant Books Only--He's talking about not reading a book because you think you "should" or because someone else liked it.  I'm applying that to mean that if a project isn't working, I can just let it go.  I love to finish things, but sometimes that gets in the way of making new things-sometimes things don't work.  Failure is fun! Nothing new happens without some failure.  
4. Read Multiple Books Simultaneously--I don't know about having more than one sewing project going on at a time.  I think that might make me feel a little crazy.  But I can remember, and try to work on, all of the other things I like to do and have going-little crochet projects, embroidery projects, etc.  Those are things I can do when I'm upstairs, or out of the house, or anytime I can't be down in my office. 
5. Retain The Knowledge--I'm bad about remembering things, so I'd like to try to record and document more about my projects, so I can remember what I've tried, what works and doesn't, what's fun and what's not fun.  You'll probably see all of that here.  :)  
So--That's the plan.  Here's to a fantastic February!  
What gives you energy?  What drains you?  

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Bossy Betsy: Kansas Library Audiobooks

Bossy Betsy says:  You should be listening to audiobooks!  And you can do it for free!!

The State Library of Kansas --  has tons of wonderful books for you to check out and listen to.  They have an app that is easy to use, you can download the books to your phone or device when you have wifi, and then listen in the car without using any data.

Listening to books in the car is amazing.  The kiddos don't fuss, everyone loves it, and it redeems all that time in the van.

You need to have a Kansas State Library card-but I'm a librarian!  I can get you one!  Just email me and I'll help you get all set up.

They have kids books, grown up books, fiction, non-fiction, everything.  MJL likes to listen to long history books on the tractor, and we like to listen to juvenile fiction in the van.  It is honestly one of my very favorite things in the whole world.  

In the Summer, when we don't see Daddy so much, sometimes we'll all listen to the same book at the same time-and then when we do see him we can talk about it.  It's fun to have a project together even when he's busy working.

Here are a few of my recommendations to get started:

  • The Ramona Series--read by Stockard Channing and just wonderful.  We've listened to them all more than once because they're just so fun.  For parents just as much (maybe more) than for the kids. 
  • Everything by Patricia Reilly Giff--Historical Fiction is one of my favorite juvenile genres, and I have loved living in these histories and discussing them with Anna.
  • Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms--one of my absolute favorites, but the caveat is that I don't want you to read ANYTHING about it.  Don't look at the synopsis or read about the author or anything.  That way every moment is a surprise and a delight.  
  • Clementine--Sara Pennypacker  Three of the books are available and they're wonderful.  Funny and sweet and clever.
  • E.B. White-Even if you've read them dozens of times, all of these are fun to listen to again. 
  • Blue Balliett writes interesting mysteries that combine elements of math and art.  They have some suspense, but not too much.  
So send me a message if you want me to help you get set up.  Or visit your public library and tell them you want a library card for the State Library of Kansas.  Once you have a number, you sign up for the OneClick digital app and you're off!  

Do it. 

Bossy Betsy out.