Tuesday, February 22, 2011

How to Interest Boys in Math...Almost Painlessly

If you want to get your boys excited about math - physics, even...just give them permission to build a trebuchet. They'll be on their math books like a duck on a June bug.

Take this advice at your own risk. 

I'm just sayin'. 


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Technology Can Kiss My Grits...or...A Birthday Wishlist for an 11 Year Old Boy

My children know what Wii is only because we have cousins. Not a huge fan of video games myself, I was thrilled to get the following list from my almost-twelve-year-old son in advance of his special day:

Wish List
oxen (a matched pair)
compound bow
steel-toe boots
crosscut saw
hand saw
comealong ratchet hoist
draw knife
pry bar
level (a yard-long one)
Maybe List
steel post vise
blacksmith hammer
rounding swages
metal files
blacksmith tongs

I don't know what half these things are either, but I was informed by a reliable, almost-done-with-eleven source that I could learn from reading Back To Basics. As the song says, a country boy can survive...

Friday, January 28, 2011

Twins Birth Story - Part 4, the moral to the story...

 During my  last trimester carrying the twins, my girlfriends would sometimes drop by with gifts- paper plates, a jar of homemade soup, or even bread from the store, haleluYah. Each of them had the same pained expression on their face and they often had shimmery, teardrop-in-the-corner eyes when they asked how I was doing. Until I looked back at the pictures of myself at that time, I never understood the drama. I knew I was enormous, but didn't comprehend just how enormous. I remember that I could barely move myself, breathing was hard work and I had to eat almost constantly to get in enough calories. But it was all for a purpose.

My midwives over the years had taught me to forget all I had read about weight gain in pregnancy, to eat what they told me to eat, and forget the scale. The amount of weight didn't matter as long as I was taking in the right nutrients. This advice came in handy in my twin pregnancy. With twins, a large weight gain in the first two trimesters is of the utmost importance in having healthy birth weights for the babies (hindsight tells me that it also has to do with not being able to squeeze in much food in the last trimester). I didn't know I was expecting twins until (at twenty weeks) it was far too late to go back and put on large quantities of weight. This was one time that my habit of self-medicating morning sickness with carbs came in handy. Moral number one is eat like crazy all during the pregnancy. If you're just reading this in your third trimester, do your best with no fear of fatness...you'll never believe how fast all that weight comes off nursing two babies. I 'only' put on sixty-five pounds (out of the 60-80 that was recommended), and it was gone within ten weeks with no dieting. Eat, Momma, eat.

The other important thing I want to share about carrying twins is something that I had read before that just didn't seem to click in my brain. Assume you are in labor even if it doesn't feel like labor normally does for you. (Interpreted for first-time Mommas: just don't feel bad if you have several false alarms for labor.) I really did not believe I was in labor when I truly was. After naturally birthing as many times as I had before, I trusted in my instincts and experience...and I was wrong. That old uterus is so distended, it won't send signals the way it usually does. When in doubt, assume it is the real thing.

Not terribly exciting, but these are the things that I wish I had known (or known well enough to not feel guilty). Your mileage may vary.


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Will Hug For Food: My Practical Method for Loving Touch With My Children

Growing up with Dad in prison, my Single-Without-A-High-School-Diploma Momma struggled to raise three children alone. As a means of survival, we often lived with relatives who resented our being in their homes. It was a recipe for a childhood without affection.

My Visionary will tell you that (although I am growing in grace) I am not one to accept or make excuses. My childhood is not an excuse, but it explains why I have to work harder at remembering to be physically affectionate with my children. For some reason, I never had this problem with my babies and toddlers - I would happily smother my Little Ones with smooches and cuddles. Cuteness is it's own reminder.

When kids got bigger and busier, not always under my feet or at my side, it was harder to remember. When boys began smelling, well...like boys, it took more effort. Scurrying around the house always with an agenda to keep my head above water, it wasn't naturally a high priority - like so many other things, I would have to learn to make myself do it for the sake of my children. Sick of trying and failing, trying and failing, I cried out to my Father for ideas... methods that would help me remember to give the gift of loving touch to my kids. This is when I happened upon "paying for meals'.

 At Family Meeting one week, I announced that I would be requiring everyone to pay for their meals from now on. Not before the Has-She-Lost-Her-Mind faces melted, I explained that each person would be required to 'pay' one hug to each other person at the table before they would be allowed to eat. The Big Kids coughed that Surely-You-Must-Be-Joking nervous chuckle as their faces revealed their thoughts. "You want me to hug him? Gulp."

Despite the uncertainty of the children and my own misgivings about whether this would be yet another great idea that fizzled before it took strong hold, it worked. Should a fly be on the wall  in our home at mealtime, he would likely have a quizzical expression on his face (and wonder where he left his earplugs) as he was bombarded with at least five children simultaneously hollering:

"Hugs!"            "Cod Liver Oil!"        "Hugs!"                  "Hugs!"               "Elderberry Syrup!"       "Hugs!"            "Cod Liver Oil!"            "Hugs!"             "Elderberry Syrup!"    "Hugs!"
"Elderberry Syrup!"                "Cod Liver Oil!"                                   "Hugs!"
These reminders began after woefully realizing that we had been forgetting, more often than not, our daily doses of cod liver oil and elderberry syrup. The first person to remind us at breakfast was bribed with a quarter. If your home is like ours, you can imagine the chaos and noise  exuberance of the reminders. The babies loved having anything to holler simultaneously without being shushed, so it stuck for every meal.   

We did eventually get better at remembering our 'medicines'. Each person is now receiving a minimum of 27 hugs every day (even more when Dad is home), which is medicine in it's own right. (Those concerned that children in large families are neglected could never comprehend this. I wonder how many hugs they get each day?) It carries over into the rest of the day, too. Walls have been broken down between siblings and I have noticed a distinct decrease in personal space prickliness. I am even able to remember to do this in exasperating moments, as Mary's method for keeping the good moments good has been a blessing not as difficult to do as it once would have been.

We have kept this up for four months now...I'm encouraged! Ignoring my personal plan to, once I have discernible, regular progress in any area, raise the bar, I just want to sit in this one in all it's perfect simplicity and soak it up for a while longer. Yahweh remembers we are dust, He cares about every little detail, and He doesn't expect us to be perfect...just obedient. We are allowed to use 'cheats', reminders or CliffsNotes to help us obey. He is not a hard taskmaster...simple obedience is enough.

Thank you Abba, for one more evidence of your grace.