Archive for October, 2010

I know, this is a repeat picture. But I can't resist this hand--look at the chub on those fingers!

The previous post in this series is found here.

I mean it. Thank you, thank you, thank you!  Thank you for not waiting to find out the gender of your baby.  Thank you for choosing to let that sonographer rub all over your preggo belly until the great secret is revealed, because I might spontaneously combust if I had to wait until your due date to find out!  Hold on…

I’m back!  Just the thought of not knowing for five more months sent me to my Halloween stash for another fun-size Snickers.  Anyway, despite my desire to tell you everything I can about pregnancy, lately I find myself  thinking about your baby and wondering if we’re going to welcome another boy cousin into the family, or if you’re going to even things out for the girls.  Instead of dispensing maternal wisdom I chew on my nails and check the calendar to see how many more days until the crucial appointment.

Now, I have to admit something here. I think I know what you’re having.  I know it sounds ridiculous, but I feel pretty confidant!  You’ll encounter other people–friends, perfect strangers–who will declare the gender of your child based on how you’re carrying, the type of food you prefer, or simply their own intuition.  (They might  be really obnoxious about it and depending on your hormone levels at the time you may or may not respond graciously.)

But I’m your big sister.  I’m not  sure why that makes a difference here, but still, I think I know and I’ve revealed my guess in this post!  Try to find it!  Or not. Perhaps you rolled your eyes after the first couple of sentences and went off to do something more interesting like winterize your pool.  But it’s here, on record, so that if I’m right I can slide into big sister mode and say:

I told you so!

If I’m wrong?  I sincerely, absolutely, unequivocally do not care.  The gender, when revealed, will suddenly be exactly what I wanted my baby sister to have.  (It’s crazy how that happens!)



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We have a number line.

It was cheap. (My favorite thing about it!)

We made it ourselves.

It doesn’t hang on the wall. (This might actually be my favorite part.)

We add to it as needed.  Right now it’s up to forty-five.  Eventually we’ll make it to 100 and it will start in the living room and end in my bedroom; the thirties on the stairs and the eighties in the bathroom.

Everyone uses it; the three year-old for simple counting, the first grader and third grader   for skip-counting (and they can really skip–sort of) and walking out their addition, subtraction and multiplication. 

 I like getting them off their bums and in motion, their little feet tracing a numerical path as they forge and strengthen new ones in their brain.

A typical morning with my three year-old on the floor number line might include any  of the following activities:

  • Counts by ones from one to twenty, stepping with both feet in front of the number as she says its name; then she does the same counting backwards from twenty to one. If she’s feeling really sassy she can bunny hop or hop on one foot from number to number, but she has to be in front of the number as she says it. 
  • “Find the number” — I call out a number and she has to find it and stand in front of it as quickly as possible.  Then I may ask questions or give directions like, “which number is next” or “move forward two numbers and tell me what number you’re on now”.
  • Counting objects — I grab a handful of small items (pennies, paperclips, tiny toy dinosaurs, etc) and she has to count out the appropriate amount for a number that I  select. Then I will ask what she can do to that group so that she has the correct amount for the next number on the number line (or the previous number).

No matter their age, everyone’s time with the floor number line ends the same way:    “countdown and blast off!”  This simply means counting down to one, yelling “blast off!” and running wildly around the house making any number of imagined rocket-like sounds.

One last word.  Our floor number line is one of those perfect, golden arrows in my homeschool arsenal:  no one moans, groans or complains when I give the order to set it up; quite the opposite, in fact. (Ok, really, that’s my favorite part.)

Happy counting,


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Morning Meditation 4

Blessed is the man

who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked

or stand in the way of sinners

or sit in the seat of mockers.

But his delight is in the law of the LORD,

and on his law he meditats day and night.

He is like a tree planted by streams of water,

which yields its fruit in season

and whose leaf does not wither.

Whatever he does prospers.

Psalms 1:1-3 (NIV)

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To view the previous post in this series, please click here.

I’ve worried about this message for a few days.  It involves a topic that is particularly guilt-inducing for some moms.  Perhaps–I thought– it’s better to just leave it alone. 

Wait…what?  Leave it alone?  I’d have to give up my Bossy Big Sister status!  No way. I’m licensed to interfere, push, prod, nag, pester, bug, irritate, dictate, speculate, never hesitate and when all else fails–boss. (Or tie you up ’til you promise to behave, whatever works.)

Anyway, I’m talking about preserving memories for your sweet baby and I’m going to keep it short and sweet this week.  If you want to create a scrapbook that weighs fifty pounds by Baby’s first birthday, go for it! If a pre-fab “baby book” is more your style, grab a cute one and start filling in the blanks. 

 But if traditional, detailed chronicles of any sort are not your style, don’t beat yourself up about it.  Just save something. You’ll enjoy the flood of memories  every time you reexamine the keepsakes and your child will treasure them all their life.  Here’s a few no-stress suggestions to get you started.

  • Keep a pocket-sized notebook in your purse and jot down a poignant moment when you can. Encourage hubs to add his thoughts as well.
  • Keep a small camera with you to snap photos of sweet and silly moments–like when you first realize you can no longer see your feet, grab that camera and record the new view!
  • Print copies of any e-mail correspondences related to the baby.  Did you e-mail anyone with the big news?    Do you and the hubs e-mail back and forth about appointment times, possible baby names, how many times you’ve felt the baby move, what food just gave you indigestion or the ten egg rolls you need him to get for you right now? Print them out and tuck them away!
  •  Hang on to a receipt for your maternity clothes or the first package of diapers that you buy.
  • Keep an easy memento of pregnancy cravings.  Stash an extra copy of your favorite take-out menu (circle the things you’ve ordered over and over during your pregnancy) or a grocery store receipt that shows the ten pints of Super-Duper Triple Chocolate Chip (theoretically speaking).

Remember, these memories are not just for you and the hubs to savor, they are the beginning of Baby’s personal history.  Trust me on this:  kids love hearing their story.  It doesn’t need fancy, color-coordinated packaging, it just needs to be preserved for all of you to enjoy.



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It’s Circles This Time!

My friend at Come To The Waters  has challenged me.  She whipped off a glove, whacked me across the face with it and said, “Circles. Be there or be square!”( Clearly she was afraid that I would post another three pictures featuring  lines.)

Well, she frightened me into it. 

Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to pack up my camer and go hunting for circles.  So I took a peek  at some photos that were just sitting around on my laptop.  Guess what I found in the collection of saree photos that I took when my husband returned from India? 


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These days they're shocked when I put them on for something more active than a quick trip to the grocery store.

If you’re wondering how one can “sort of” run, just trust me, it’s very easy.  It goes something like this.

  • Wake up early one Saturday.
  • Notice that none of the kids are awake.
  • Notice that Autumn has arrived and she’s more beautiful than ever, so beautiful you might cry.  But you decide to run  instead.
  • Get into running gear in record time, as quietly as possible, before anyone can wake up and stop you.
  • Run. Run through a clear, crisp fall morning, past towering pines and know that you cannot stop this; you must run as often and as long as possible.  You must run several times a week!
  • Begin plans to shop for a double jogging stroller to accomodate kids too small to accompany you on bikes.
  • Run, still, filling your lungs with sweet, early morning air.
  • Decide that the 10-k race you saw advertised is just the goal you need to solidify your renewed commitment to regular running.  Ignore the fact that you haven’t run more than a mile without stopping in two years.  Ignore the fact that the 10-k is six weeks away.
  • Return home invigorated and determined.
  • Wake up early Monday morning rather sore and begin homeschool. 
  • Run with your kids during P.E. and wonder what happened to that Autumn-fresh feeling.
  • Manage to complete a mile before the kids are clamoring for the playground.
  • Experience relief that you didn’t fork over $300 for a jogging stroller.
  • Decide that you might enter a local 1-mile Fun Run/Walk with your kids.
  • Run when you can.

See, it’s easy! 

I have to admit, “sort of” is not the kind of running that I want to do.  “Sort of” lives in the same neighborhood as “mediocre” in my world.  But there are other things more important to me right now, other things that keep me from committing to three hours a week for running.  I know that one day these present commitments won’t be as pressing and my life will have room for bigger running goals. 

For now, I'll settle for what I can work in among greater priorities.

 In the meantime I enjoy what I have and run, sort of.


PS:    Fall is just as dangerous as Spring to a sporadic runner–those transitional seasons are intoxicating!

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I blame this post on the latte. Some of us can't hold our coffee.

You can view my previous bossy-big-sister advice here. 

Don’t ever hesitate to call your doctor if you have a question.  Ever.  I’m feeling really very bossy about this right now, so if you’re not in the mood you might want to come back later or block me with security settings or something because it feels sort of like when I was twelve, you were six  and I knew everything.  (I think I should have made that latte I ordered this morning a “tall” instead of a grande.) 

Okay, where was I?

Right. Calling your doctor.  If you have an absolutely fabulous doctor then she has already assured you that you can call any time you have a concern or question.  Do it!  Don’t ever talk yourself out of a phone call because:

  1.  “It’s a silly question.”
  2. “I should know this.”
  3.  “I should be able to figure this out on my own.”
  4.  “There’s no way I’m going to say that word out loud.”
  5.  “She’ll think I’m a complete idiot for asking that question.”

I’m going to ditch these objections  for you.

1.  It’s a silly question.  Really?  Why?  Because you think you should already know it?  Because you think everyone else probably knows this and has never called your doctor to ask it?  Not likely.  In fact, I would wager Grandmommy’s cake stand that someone has asked it before.  In fact, I challenge you to come up with a sincere, pregnancy-related question that your doctor has never heard!  Now, for the sake of argument I’ll admit that silly questions are possible.  If you called your doctor to ask, “What’s the likelihood that I’ll deliver a six-toed cat with black ears and a purple tail?” even I would call that silly.

2.  I should know this.  Why? You’ve never had a baby before!  Don’t trip yourself up with this one; it’s silly ill-advised.

3.  I should be able to figure this out. Well, if you let yourself go down that road, you just might convince yourself that you and the Hubs can ditch the doctor and deliver the baby yourself!  Seriously,  I know you’ve got a lot of great resources (ahem!) to consult when you want some information and I’m not suggesting that you ignore these, but just keep in mind that your doctor is the medical expert here.  She’s the ultimate resource. 

4.  I can’t say that word out loud.  Okay, I get this one, I really do.  Fortunately, if it’s a problem, you have a great vocabulary and can probably get the idea across without saying the actual, precise, completely mortifying, anatomically correct word. If not, drive to your doctor’s office and write it on paper or draw a picture.

5. She’ll think I’m an idiot.  I’ll make this brief:  (a) No she won’t. (b) If she does she’s too professional to show it. (c) If not “a” or “b”, then get a new doctor!  (On this point, please refer back to number one.)

The thing to keep in mind is that the doctor knows you are totally new at this. Guiding a first-time mom through all the little details is part of her job.

I’m so glad I got this out of my system!



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Since we started homeschool, I have yet to enjoy the luxury of a designated “school room” in our home.  This is rarely a problem… 

This was a very easy, very inexpensive solution.

But when I wanted a large number line for math work, an alternative to the “hundreds chart” that my little students use individually, I was stumped.  Nobody would appreciate one in their bedroom and I wasn’t about to slap one up on the dining room walls!

All this requires is floor space. Don't concern yourself with one straight line. Ours usually snakes all over the house!

The solution turned out to be easy and unexpectedly fun.  I grabbed a stack of white printer paper and a magic marker and began outlining numbers.  We laid our number line out on the floor and got down to the business of mathematics!

The kids love working with this number line.

In their spare time the kids colored in the numbers until we had a unique, colorful number line that showed glimpses of their separate personalities from beginning to end!

Next time I’ll share some of the ways our kids–3,6 and 8–use this number line with their mathematics.


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Show me your ways, O LORD,

teach me your paths;

guide me in your truth and teach me,

for you are God my Savior,

and my hope is in you all day long.

Psalm 25 :4-5 (NIV)

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