Sonlight – waiting for box day!

So, since this is my blog and I get to write about whatever I want, today I am going to bore you with my latest obsession–homeschool!

I did a lot of research last year into homeschool curriculums, and decided that I really liked the one called Sonlight. It’s a Christian homeschooling curriculum that is based on reading, and a lot of it. Perfect for me, and for Beth, too. Hopefully it will work for the other girls as well. Sonlight has two levels of preschool, P3/4 and P4/5. P3/4 is fairly informal. You have a bunch of books to read, but you don’t really have a specific schedule, you just read the books in “trimesters” and do an activity for each book.

P4/5 is more organized and scheduled, though, which I’m looking forward to. I really need the structure in order to keep up with things. Right now, I do homeschool with Beth while the other two are napping, in the afternoon after lunch. How long we spend at it depends on what else I need to get done that day, but I try to do at least 30 minutes or so. Obviously I’ll have to change that as she gets older (she won’t always have less than an hour’s work to do). Sonlight is organized into core (history, read-alouds, literature), language arts, science, math, Bible, and electives. So my thought is that I might start doing the core, Bible, and maybe science in the morning, and do the language arts and learning to read stuff during naptime. That way Josie can sort of soak up some of the stuff as well. I’ll have to wait until the instructor’s guide comes and I get an idea of what I need to do each day before I make a decision.

Last year, when we were doing P3/4, I tried to save money by looking up the booklist and planning on getting as many books as possible from the library, then getting some used and others from Sonlight. I looked at reviews of books and substituted something else for some of them. I also just sort of let the books get mixed in with the rest of our collection. This did not work. Some of the library books turned out to be unavailable and never showed up. Some of the books were a little harder and would have benefited from a reread, but since they were mixed in with the other books (and we have a ton) we never managed to pick them up again for a reread. Some of the library books had many stories in them, and we only managed a few. So ultimately, we didn’t get through a lot of the stuff.

So when I was working on ordering the P4/5 stuff, I also went back and ordered copies of most of the P3/4 stuff that we missed. I’m going to try to have us read those first. Then we’ll get started on the P4/5.

For ordering the books, I did a mix of things. I made a list of every book. Then I did a price compare between Sonlight, Amazon, and Abebooks. I also looked for lots on Ebay, but there wasn’t much up at this time of year. I ended up getting a few things from Amazon, a lot from Sonlight, and a lot from Abebooks. I should be getting a huge box from Sonlight on Saturday (I hope!) and lots of little separate arrivals from Abebooks.

It may sound odd that I’m planning to start a new year of school in March or April. The thing is, I think that Beth is ready for some more structure in her schooling. And I see no reason that we need to follow the school year when we’re teaching at home. So my thought is that we’ll do the P4/5 5-day schedule, but I won’t necessarily expect their 5 days to align with my weeks. We’ll do a day of scheduled school when we can, and other days we’ll do other activities… play her ABC game or Hi-Ho Cherry-o, work on the dress we’re making, read some of the phonics/sight words books that I got, work on our workbooks, etc. So we’ll stretch out the year and finish… whenever we finish. And whenever we finish, we’ll start the year after that. That’s my current plan for the next couple of years, at least. Once she’s 6 1/2 (6 1/2 vs. 6 because that’s when the school year starts), I’ll have to make sure that I’m keeping abreast of state requirements, so I might have to arrange things differently. But for now, I think this will work well.

I’ve also been contemplating how to arrange things with multiple kids, once several are in school. One thing about Sonlight is supposed to be that you can teach multiple kids at once with one curriculum. You’d use, say, the K curriculum for two kids who are 4 and 5. The older one might be using the Level 1 readers and the younger one the Level K readers, and the 5-year-old might be doing the K math and the younger one not, but they’d do the same history, geography, read-alouds, etc. I might try to put Josie and Cecy together like that. While all the kids have the same age split, it happens that Josie and Cecy, because of their birthdays, would be just a year apart in school, because they usually use Sept. 1st or so as the cutoff. So Josie, born in Oct., would be one of the oldest in her class, and Cecy, born in Aug., would be one of the youngest. So my thought is that the year when Josie is 4 (almost 5) and Cecy is 3, I might have them both start on the P4/5 curriculum, and have Josie do the more advanced readers, and then keep them on the same curriculum from there on out. I’ll have to see how that would go.

Okay, so as a reward for reading all my excitement about homeschooling, I’m including a few pictures of the girls at a local play place. They had lots of fun, as you can see.

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Baby Teddy Bear’s got a weasel!

Not much to report. We’re still sick. Well, Josie is the sickest, but Beth woke up this morning crying/screaming, “Josie got me sick!” Yeah. And poor little Cecy is sick, too. I’m waiting for those supposed magical antibodies from the breastmilk to help Cecy, since I’m feeling a bit under the weather but not sick (so I think my body already has the antibodies for this strain). I’m tempted to slip a bit of pumped milk to Josie as well. Heh.

I’ve started the One Hundred Pushups program (www.hundredpushups.com). I heard from a friend, however, that she knows several women who have tried it and who have had problems with their rotary cuffs because the program advances too quickly for women. So I decided to redesign it just a bit and slow things down. The program is designed to get you up to 100 pushups in one go at about 6 weeks. There’s a bit of variance, though, because every 2 weeks you take a test to see how many you can do in one go, and what level you start the next week on depends on the results of that test. So you might have to repeat weeks. Anyway, I figured I’d slow it down, maybe let it take 12 weeks or so. I’ll admit that while the first day was too easy, the second day was fine, and every day since then has been a strain. So I can see maybe about it pushing too hard. I’m also a bit concerned about my form, which I thought was pretty good, because I notice that my neck aches and I have a headache afterwards. So I need to pay attention next time and see whether I’m tensing up or angling my head weird or something.

I also found something online that talked about how to do pushups so that you don’t strain anything. I’m not quite sure I’m understanding the directions correctly, though, because the directions make the pushups a *lot* harder. Today’s my last regular pushup day, and then tomorrow I’ll probably take the test to see how many I can do in one go. You’re supposed to wait a few days before doing that test, but I’m not sure how, as I need to start my next week’s pushups on Monday. I’ve added in Zumba to my “off” days in the hopes of getting some cardio. Steve suggested that we do P90X last summer, and at the time I declined. I think I probably should have said yes, as doing an exercise with somebody else would probably be beneficial. But since he’s military, his cardio is way better than mine. So maybe I’ll stick to Zumba for a while and try to get a little more in shape, then see if he wants to do P90X with me. You’re supposed to get major results with that program!

I’ve been working on my writing a bit, too. I got Holly Lisle’s Create-A-**** Clinic books for Christmas (Create-a-Plot, Character, Language, and Culture), and I’ve been going through and doing the exercises based on the book I want to write. It’s really made me think and plan out some things that I hadn’t done otherwise. I got some good insight by doing the Culture one, and now I’m going back and working some more on my character. Then I’ll go to world. I know basically the story I want to write, but I need to sort out the plot a bit. I have a lot of it written, but I just don’t like what I’ve written so far. Which I guess is how first drafts work, but… still, it makes it hard to be excited about it.

My best-plotted story, I had managed to get the whole plot laid out to the point where I knew what specific scenes I wanted. I wrote each scene’s general description on a notecard. I then sorted the notecards to make sure the storylines progressed together as I wanted them to, and then each day I tried to cover 2-3 notecards, so that I was finishing 2-3 scenes a day. It was amazing. I loved it.

Holly Lisle actually also had a really great downloadable book about scene-writing that had some fantastic points, so I need to go back over that a bit, too. But I think that figuring out, not just the general plot, but what actual scenes I want included, would make a huge difference. Here’s to getting things working again so that I can get and stay excited about this story!

I’ve read a few good books lately. Julie Berry’s “Amaranth Enchantment” was a great read and lots of fun. “Secondhand Charm” was a little strange, but also good. She has a few other books out that I’ll keep an eye out for.

I also just finished Holly Lisle’s “The Ruby Key.” I didn’t end up enjoying most of the book, but that wasn’t because it wasn’t well-written, it was just a bit too dark for me. I love fantasy, but I generally like light, playful fantasy. Fairy tales, the like. “The Ruby Key” had a lot of scary, spooky-type stuff. I like my fantasy worlds to be places where I’d want to live, not horrifying places. However, I really liked the ending to the book, I thought it made the whole thing worth it. I have the sequel, and I might try that, even though the book wasn’t my ideal, just because her writing is good enough that I’ll learn something. Another book that I read of Lisle’s, I think it was called “Midnight Rain,” also showcased her ability to write a really satisfying, exciting ending. That book was great all the way through.

My current book is “Pegasus,” by Robin McKinley. I like Robin McKinley’s stuff, but in her case, I almost always hate the endings. They always seem to be full of big, dramatic magic that is doing all sorts of crazy drastic things to the point where you can’t even really keep track… and then a disappointing denouement. Her books tend to be really fantastic up until the climax, and that’s what keeps me reading. Like “Rose Daughter.” Wonderful, wonderful book, right up until the climax. From that point, I’ve often fantasized about rewriting it for my own enjoyment.

Today’s Beth quote:

“I have to take Baby Teddy Bear to the doctor! He has a weasel.”

“A what?”

“You know. Red spots on his face.”

She’s been talking all day about how Baby Teddy Bear has a weasel. Apparently she’s been thinking about the MMR shots (the girls all got vaccinations recently). She was so upset about the shots that afterwards I told her about my grandmother, who was 4 when she lost a 2-year-old brother to polio, and how the shot that Beth had gotten that day (polio) would make sure that nothing like that would happen to Beth, and how lucky we are to live in a time when we have shots so that kids don’t die of diseases like they did a long time ago. She’s been fascinated by this ever since, wanting to know all about shots and kids of the past, etc.

Oh! And I’m making a dress for Josie. Beth got it in her head that we should sew a dress for Josie. I figured, hey, why not? Could be a good experience for her to see what goes into making a dress. So we are. So far I’ve cut out the fabric parts. I’m still working on cutting out the lining parts. So no sewing yet. I haven’t worked on it for the past few days because of the illnesses, but I’m hoping to get some good work done on it in the next few weeks. I mostly just get about 20 minutes done at a time, so it will probably be a pretty long project!

Illness and homeschool travails

Josie is sick. It’s nothing serious, just a cold. But it means that she’s whinier and fussier than normal. And since she’s 2, and is very much a whiner/tantrum-thrower whenever she doesn’t get her way (and I mean *whenever*–including things like not getting the color plate she wanted for lunch). It’s much the worse at the moment. She basically cried from about 6pm until 7:30pm (bedtime) this evening. Oy.

I’m having a hard time feeling interested in the kids lately. I know that’s a horrible thing to say. I just don’t want to listen to another 10 minute narrative about princesses or some other 4-year-old interest that requires very little response. I guess I just need a break from the kids, and I never really get one. The evenings aren’t long enough, and I tend to make them longer than I should by staying up too late, and then I’m tired the next morning, which exacerbates the problem. I’d love to have an hour in which I didn’t have to be a mom, and wasn’t grocery shopping or at the dentist.

I’ve been slacking off with the schooling lately. Keeping the house up had gotten overwhelming, and I was so busy with other things. But I’ve been trying to get back on track. Today we did a little of two different workbooks, so we did a few different activities. Beth doesn’t really like learning to write her letters. She loves to write, but she wants to do it her own way, so she forms some of the letters wrong. She really hates being told what to do and thinks she knows everything, though, which is frustrating. If she were going to be in school, I wouldn’t be so concerned about it, because in many cases they won’t listen to their parent but they’ll listen to the teacher. But since I’m going to be her teacher as well as parent, I have to get her to listen to me, somehow. Anyway, she liked the other activities for the most part.

Cecy is starting to do better with tummy time. She really hated it up until recently (as in, a few days ago), but she seems to be enjoying it a bit more the past few days. She’ll play happily with toys in that position for a while, then eventually roll over. She hasn’t rolled from back to front yet, although she’s been really on the verge a few times. Beth was crawling at a week after 6 months, which Cecy will turn tomorrow. Somehow I doubt she’ll be crawling in a week. Josie was 8 months, and that seems more likely. Doesn’t bother me, as I’ll have to watch her a lot more carefully and do a lot more childproofing once she starts to crawl.

I’m going to try something new next week. I’ve noticed that Josie is way behind where Beth was at her age in things like letters and numbers and colors. Beth went to a birthday party a few months before her 2nd birthday and got a toy that had lots of little parts. At the party, she was having fun putting the parts in the container, and counting, “One, two, tree,” clearly, all the way up to ten. Josie counts, “two, tree, two, tree,” repeated. At her 2nd birthday party, Beth got a toy that sang the alphabet, and she could sing it clearly along. Josie can mumble along, but she’s not really singing the letters at all, more just singing nonsense to the tune. Now, I know you aren’t supposed to compare them… but I worry that Josie isn’t getting the one-on-one attention that Beth got at her age, and that’s why she’s behind. Also, she’s gotten less of things like Sesame Street, because Beth has branched out into VeggieTales, Dora, princess movies, Christian movies, etc.

So, starting next week, we’re going to have Tuesday/Thursday morning “dayschool” with both Beth and Josie. Beth is excited about how we’re going to teach Josie.

So I’m going to organize a little bit more formal of a preschool sort of lesson for both girls. On those days, the morning TV is going to be Leapfrog (I have some alphabet/numbers DVDs), although they can choose the one they want. Then we’ll have a letter each day that we work on, and we’ll talk about the letter, do a craft with it, read a book about it, etc. We’ll include Josie, in the hopes of getting her some letter/number recognition. I think she’ll love it, and I think Beth will enjoy having a school companion finally. And they can definitely do things on a different level… Beth might get that the craft is making something that starts with the letter, Josie might just enjoy getting to glue things together. Beth will get to learn how to sound out simple words that start with the letter each week, Josie will start to see that letters make sounds. Etc. So, we’ll see how that goes.

Oh, and our heat is out again. Bah. We think that it’s been poorly maintained, but we’re not really sure what the problem is now. It’s awfully cold not to have heat, although we do have space heaters, which help. I put the little (less powerful) one with a thermostat in with Cecy, and the other stays in the main part of the house. I have to be careful where I plug them in so that I don’t overload a circuit, which is a pain.

I ordered a couple of new homeschool books, one on the sight words and one that is just a phonics one with “Zac the Rat,” supposed to be good. Beth recognizes the word “the,” so she’s got one sight word. More to come!

Christmas preparations

Yet again, I’ve let far too long go between posts. Right now I should really be working on Cecy’s Christmas stocking, but I’m not really in the mood, so this is a great way to procrastinate. I suppose my not wanting to do something else is at least beneficial to the blog!

So, my Christmas shopping is pretty much done, which I’m quite pleased about. I had to start early because I needed to get the presents to the Mid-Atlantic state where my parents and in-laws all live, which meant either bringing them with me or buying them there when I visited over Thanksgiving, or having them sent. I even got a pretty cool present for Seth, which I hope he enjoys.

I’m still trying to figure out whether I’m done with presents for the girls. I have a pretty small budget ($30) for each girl, and I’m trying to stretch it as far as I can. I’m also a bit torn on a few things that I’ve bought, planning to give them for Christmas, but that might not count as Christmas presents. For one thing, I got the Fisher Price Little People “Inn at Bethlehem” to go with our Little People Nativity Set. I plan to give it to the girls early, probably as soon as we get the tree up, so that we can use it to act out the story of Christ’s birth, and let the girls play with them and spend time thinking about Jesus.

The other one I’m not sure about is a game that is intended for homeschool, but that I thought I would give at Christmas because it might make the ABC game more interested to Beth. “Ooh, let’s play with my present!” instead of “Let’s play the homeschool game.” Nonetheless, it’s intended to be educational more than anything else. Hmm.

My main present for them is a schoolbus full of Lego Duplos that I got from somebody off craigslist for a great price. I was planning to split that between them, then get each one additional present. But then… I just happened across another great deal on Lego Duplos, this one including a table, and now I’ve spent almost their entire Christmas budget on Duplos. Oops. Could save some of them for something in the future, not sure what, exactly, though.

Beth also has her birthday in January. In some ways, that complicates things, although in other ways it makes things possible that wouldn’t be otherwise (can combine presents, etc.). I really want to get her this Melissa & Doug Tiered Cake for her birthday. She loves play food and cakes especially, and it seems somewhat appropriate to do the cake for her birthday. So… we’ll see.

Mom and I took Beth to see Tangled during our Thanksgiving visit. It was her first “real” movie (we took her a year ago to see “Earth,” which was a bit too scary for her and I spent most of the time in the hallway with her waiting for the occasional non-scary moment that she could watch). Tangled was fantastic. I love the new style of animation they use, it’s absolutely gorgeous. The movie was witty and just downright funny–the animals provided a great deal of humor. I liked the characters and actually felt like we saw them grow through their experiences, and their relationship really did seem to grow naturally (no love at first sight here!). I’d love to see it again. And again.

One cute Josie moment: in the car last night on our way back up to New England, she woke up and wanted “down” from her car seat. I told her I couldn’t, that she had to stay in her car seat. Josie: “Why?” Now, that may not seem like a big deal, but it’s the first time she’s ever asked me why something had to be a certain way. I’ve never heard her say the word before. It just seems to signal a huge jump in logical processes, where she wants to know the reason for something and is able to express it. Pretty awesome!

Beth wants to marry the little boy next door. Not so awesome.

Quick update

I’m going to try to make this quick, because Cecy is in bed and I haven’t heard any baby noises for about 10 minutes, so I think she’s actually asleep. She has this little prank she loves to play where she waits until I’ve just climbed into bed and closed my eyes, then she starts to cry. So this time I’m hoping to beat her prank by actually getting an hour’s sleep or so in first before she wakes me. We’ll see how it goes.

I think I’m getting a cold. Possibly contributed to by the lack of sleep weakening my immune system. I’m annoyed with myself for going to church today, as I may have given it to others, but I wasn’t feeling any symptoms beyond the standard exhaustion until I was already there.

Last night Cecy actually slept fairly well. I think I’m starting to pick up on some patterns, too. For instance, she’ll cry in her bouncer and I’ll come get her and go to feed her, but she won’t open her mouth, she’ll just go right back to sleep. That’s her “I want to sleep in Mommy’s bed” trick. Other times, she’s in my bed, maybe just having been fed, and she doesn’t want to eat, but she’s fussy and restless. That’s her “I want to sleep in my own bedroom” signal. I’m not sure why sometimes she wants to sleep in one and sometimes the other, but I’m working on getting her to sleep in her own room. At the same time, I let her sleep in my bed a little bit, because I absolutely need sleep to be able to parent my girls, and sometimes that’s the only way it’s happening. Better that I let her sleep in my bed (with all precautions… no blankets, on her back, fan on, angled so that she can’t tip over or nuzzle her face into my side, etc.) then that I get so little sleep that I make a careless and dangerous mistake during the day.

My house is a total wreck. Partly because I’ve been trying to pack, and so putting off some of the regular chores that will just have to be done over again in a few days. Partly because I’m too tired to get a lot done, and much of my awake time is spent feeding a new baby or walking around with one strapped to my chest (which is exhausting and also gets in the way).

Fortunately, tomorrow is a light day. We have Beth’s dance class in the evening, and I’ll have to take all 3 kids, which will be a huge pain. Josie gets into everything. But at least we’ll have the day free, so I can try to get some cleaning and desperately-needed vacuuming done, and maybe even a bit of packing.

Oh. And I really, really like the movie, “The Swan Princess.” I’ve watched it 3 times in the past month. Yes, I’m weird like that. I love the songs, especially. But the story is great, and I love the climactic moment and how it fits in perfectly with scenes from earlier in the movie. It’s a great movie to watch with the girls while I’m folding laundry. Yes, I do fold the laundry. Just generally not until it’s been sitting in a laundry basket for 2-3 days first.

So. Good night!

Beware the terrible and-a-halfs!

I have reached that point in pregnancy where you’re torn between wanting it to be over with and wanting a few more precious weeks to relax and *sleep*. Only I’ve been having trouble sleeping, so I suppose my feelings on that are rather mixed. I cannot wait to be allowed to sleep on my back again.

I’m starting to feel like a huge, lumbering (okay, waddling) penguin much of the time. It doesn’t help that I did something to my knee a few days back, too much walking around the neighborhood and lifting my knees high as I walked to try to work the kinks in my legs out before bed. I spent a few days gasping in pain every time I bent my leg. Not fun. It seems to be on the mend, fortunately, as does my sleep. I’ve been taking Unisom, which the doctor recommended. It makes me sleepy and sort of hazy, the way Percocet did when I had to take it after my foot surgery (and after childbirth). It doesn’t necessarily conk me out, though. Apparently I can lie in a haze on my bed yet remain awake for an hour or more. However, the only day I really, really couldn’t get to sleep even with the Unisom was the first day I’d hurt my knee and the pain was keeping me awake, and since then it’s really helped. So maybe I’m mostly past that now.

Seth is home, yay! I didn’t want to mention that he was gone, because, yeah, not safe. But he went off for a week to do some testing at a different military base. For the most part, days aren’t so different when he’s gone as when he’s here, since he’s at work during daytime hours anyway. I did miss having him do the one night that was his turn for bath/bedtime that he missed, but it worked out that he only missed one of his two days, so that was something. I got some writing done, although not as much as I would have hoped.

I’ve made a writing goal to try to get 250-500 words down every day. It’s a small goal, I’ll admit, but then I’m not a full-time writer, and I want some of my free time to be free. One nights when I have a great night and get over 1000 words done (okay, so that night I’d missed the night before entirely, so it was really only the equivalent of having two nights with just over 500 words), I’m quite pleased. I obviously don’t know exactly how many words the finished work will be in this draft, but I think 30,000 is a fair estimate, and I’m at 18000. So at this rate I just need another 24 days to finish, which is doable before the baby comes, if just barely.

The story feels… well, pretty crappy, to be honest. I feel like I’ve failed to really execute my idea well onto the paper. And it’s such a great story in plot outline! However, I’m not letting myself dwell on this problem too much, because I keep going back and starting over, and right now I think the best goal is just to focus on finishing the first draft, crappy or no. I really want to get that much done before the baby comes. Then I’ll be busy with the baby and forget about the story for a few weeks. At that point, I think I’ll be ready to go back, do some additional character work, and look at the story as a whole to try to figure out what’s so lackluster and how to give it a burst of life. I’ve already noticed that I do need to do a lot more description, as so much of my story basically comes across as dialogue in a vacuum. So I’m going to work on describing locales a little better, maybe on adding some interesting fantastical features/creatures to the world, and then do some brainstorming about what characters are doing when they talk, what kind of motions they have, or physical reactions, etc. It’s not that I avoid doing that stuff as I’m going along now, but I’m avoiding letting myself get stuck on trying to write that as I go along, if it doesn’t come easily to mind.

I’m really curious how chapter divisions work for professional writers. Do they divide chapters as they go along, like I’m doing, or do they write the story as a solid chunk and divide chapters later? Part of what I wonder is that I try to make chapters roughly the same size (obviously there’s some variance, but I aim for about 1200 words). I try to cut the scene at the most dramatic, “well, I can’t stop here!” part to make the reader turn the page. Etc. But some chapters I imagine I’ll end up adding a lot to, or cutting a lot from, in later drafts. If I add enough to double the chapter and then split it into two, great. But what if it’s just enough to make it a really long chapter but not enough to make it two? Hmm. Well, I’m sure that if the story is good enough to get published, that’s something the editor would tell me. So I won’t let myself be bothered too much.

Both girls are acting up a bit. Maybe it’s that whole “second half of the year” phenomenon. Beth, who just turned 3 1/2, has also just started this. She’s getting more and more independent, but along with that she also really doesn’t like being told what to do. She’s tried correcting me when I tell her to do something instead of asking, or telling me, “No,” or refusing to do things. I’m trying to work on making sure that I ask nicely and say please, just as I want her to do when she asks for something, but sometimes parents *do* have to tell their children to do something and need to be obeyed immediately. “Stay on the sidewalk!” when a child is about to step out and cars are coming needs to be obeyed instantly, not defied because the parent didn’t ask nicely and say please first. She’s a good girl, really, not generally deliberately disobedient, but we do need to work on the balance of power, because she needs to understand that while I won’t lord it over her, I *am* the parent and that gives me certain rights that she doesn’t have, namely that she has to obey me even when she doesn’t want to.

Josie, who has been 1 1/2 for some time now, has been tantruming for some time as well. When she wants something, she wants it, and if she doesn’t get it, she screams, kicks, throws herself onto the ground dramatically, etc. If she’s picked up for safety/politeness reasons, she flails and throws herself around. Etc. She’s having a bit of trouble controlling herself when her desires–no matter how significant–are thwarted. Sometimes a very small thing will set her off (she wants juice, I give her water), and she’ll scream at the top of her lungs for ten or more minutes. I think that if we have any more kids, we should aim for Spring babies, so at least we don’t have all of them in their rough “second half of the year” stage at once, because it certainly does seem accurate!

On the plus side, Josie’s language is taking off in leaps and bounds, which is incredibly fun. She said “I love you” to Seth last night, which was the first time she’s said that phrase. It was adorably cute. I love little beginning talkers.

I’m gonna try to squeeze in a quick nap during the girls’ naptime/quiet time.

Trying on shoes and other girly things

I’ve been really procrastinating on getting my writing done lately. Given that I only have about 5 weeks left (and maybe less if I can help it!) before the baby comes, and I’d like to finish at least a very rough draft by then, this is not a good thing! I would say that I’m perhaps halfway through at this point, and I do at least know where the story is going, but I’ve skipped a few things here and there that I was stuck on and needed to sort out later. Silly practicalities, like… when my characters head off into the woods, what do they have with them? Where did they stock up on sleeping rolls and all sorts of things like that? What do they eat? Okay, not so silly.

I was reading my weekly email from Holly Lisle, who has an email list for writing tips and such, and she talked about having a fairly modest writing goal each day. While part of her point was that it was good to have a goal that you could “blow out of the water,” it also helped me realize that I don’t necessarily have to have hours to write, even if I can just manage to type 250-500 words, that will get me somewhere eventually.

Another revelation was that I’m spending a lot of time plotting, replotting, trying to solve plot issues, thinking about character, etc. And that really I need to get a rough draft written, even if it’s not great. It’s not great. And I know it’s not my best writing. But seriously, I think if I can just get through the entire story, even if it’s predictable and the prose is boring, that will really be a good start. From that I can read it and figure out what’s falling flat and what to do about it, which I can’t do when most of the scenes are in my head or written only in summary. So. I’m trying to push myself to just write, write, write, who cares how good it is, just get something down on the paper. At least 250-500 words a night. I oughta be able to manage that, right? At 500 words a night, I could do another 15,000 words in 30 days. And then when the baby is born, the timing will be perfect to let the novel sit and stew for a few weeks before I begin the revision process.

Aside from writing, today was a reasonably productive day. I find that getting the dishes done *before* getting dressed makes the day start out so much better to me. Somehow it throws things off if I go to get dressed first. I think because after my shower, I’m overheating and my blood pressure is all weird (doesn’t matter what the water temperature is). So I end up needing to sit down and maybe have a drink, and then it’s hard to get going again. So today I got the dishes done, the dining room floor swept, the table wiped, etc., before I went up for my shower. I didn’t get much done after that, as I had promised Beth that I’d watch her new princess movie with her (for some reason lately she freaks out about watching anything by herself, but princess movies are still her weekend treat). Josie was acting insane all morning. Usually she’s happy to see me when I wake up, can’t wait for her morning yogurt and breakfast, etc. Today she was fussing like crazy, didn’t want yogurt, didn’t want to eat cereal, just wanted to throw herself on the floor and wail. So she took a nap while we watched the movie, and that seemed to help things. Maybe she was up obnoxiously early?

We went to a Thomas the Train playdate thing that they have at Toys ‘R’ Us. They have a ton of trains for the kids to play with (although I wish they had a train table instead of just a printed little carpet thing that was way too small for the trains), coloring pages, paper hats, etc. The kids played with trains for a few minutes and tried some coloring. A Toys ‘R’ Us employee did one of the *worst* book readings I’ve ever heard. It was actually mildly humorous, it was just so bad. I thought about offering to read for him, but I thought that would probably be insulting. The kids weren’t so much paying attention to the story anyway. So about 10 minutes of trains, then the girls were off. Josie first. She discovered that the train exhibit was in a clothing area, and what was nearby? Shoes! She immediately sat down in the shoe aisle, grabbed a pair of shoes, pulled off her own, and tried them on. Seriously. 20 months old and already she’s shoe-shopping on her own? Beth wanted in on the action, so pretty soon both of them are trying on shiny pink glittery shoes and the like. Then Josie decided she wanted to play hide-and-seek tag among the clothing shelves, so I spent a while trying to catch and maintain control of a purple blur. Beth mostly hung out near the trains, but the second I let go of Josie she was off running, playing with Koosh balls, looking at clothes, trying to take clothes off the racks, etc. This is not something I’ve had to deal with, because generally I keep her strapped into a cart while shopping, but I hadn’t gotten a cart because we were here to play. I managed to corral her in the train area and get her to color for a bit, then we headed out.

Beth had earned a sticker reward of a Tinkerbell purse, which she’s been really excited about ever since we saw them at Meijer. We checked out a few at TRU while we were there (and she found lots of other future sticker rewards that she wants to try to earn!), but she decided she wanted one from Meijer instead. So we got back into the car and hit Meijer next. They had the perfect Tinkerbell purse (Beth loved it, and Mommy loved it because it was on clearance!). Mommy also got to use a few yogurt coupons combined with a sale. Yogurt was the one thing we were getting short on, so this way we can wait a few more days before grocery shopping (I’d like to get to see Sunday’s sale ad and get the new coupons).

Got home, had lunch, sent the girls for naps and quiet time, and had some quiet time to myself. Gotta work on Beth’s constant interruptions, though. I think I’m going to start doing sticker rewards if she can stay in her room for all of quiet time, because once the new baby is born, getting some interrupted sleep will be really crucial.

I made chocolate chip cookies, so the girls got one each after quiet time/naptime. And while they were cooking I got some vacuuming done. Nothing to make you vacuum at high speed than 10-minute cookies in the oven! Got the hall and the girls’ room done while the cookies baked, then the stairs and our bedroom while the cookies cooled. Whew! I can’t even imagine how many Cheerios there probably are in the vacuum cleaner bag. Possibly half a box’s worth. Josie has a fun new game that she likes to play with the vacuum cleaner, called “Chicken.” Basically she figures out where I’m going to vacuum next, and stands there until the vacuum is about an inch from her feet. Then she either grins at me or moves about a foot away in the direction that I’m going to be vacuuming next. I’ll shoo her away, and she’ll go off for a minute, but she’ll be back a minute or two later and do the same thing. Sometimes she’ll bring a toy or book along that she can “accidentally” drop in the vacuum’s path. Oh, for the days when the girls were afraid of the vacuum cleaner and would run, shrieking, into another room to hide while I vacuumed.

Got some laundry done (but not folded or put away), so I’ve done pretty well in the past few days. Need to clean the “quiet time room” and wash the kitchen/dining room floor and get the laundry actually folded and in drawers, oh, and clean the bathrooms, but in general the house looks pretty good. At least for our house.

I’m growing out of my maternity clothes. 😦 They were bought for pregnancies in which I was far less pregnant during the summer, so it makes sense, I suppose, but it’s still frustrating! I don’t want to buy any new stuff. I did finally give in and buy one new item, though. It’s a very lightweight dress for church. My only maternity dress that I had previously was just a little too low-cut and short for church, more like what you’d wear to a summer barbecue. This one is a little boring, but it’s collared and has a longer skirt, so I’ll feel much more comfortable wearing it to church. I got it at the consignment shop that sells mostly kids’ stuff, so it wasn’t too expensive. Looking forward to wearing it tomorrow. Although I just remembered that I wanted to put a little stitch at the collar to hold it together (it’s one of those collars where you have one side overlap the other, and there’s a tendency on collars like that to gape open a bit more than I’m comfortable with, so I hide a little stitch there and then the overlap stays together).

And… wow. You can tell I hadn’t updated for a while, because this post is way too long. I’ll save everything else for next time!