Monday, December 20, 2010

Happy Birthday to the Girl Who Loves to be Blogged

 The Girl who Loves to be Blogged was born 11 years ago today.  Here's how I looked that morning, waiting for the hospital to call and say we could come in for our induction.  I had graduated from Wheaton College Graduate School 3 days before.  Her actual due date was December 23rd, but we weren't willing to wait and let her come on her own because 1.) her older sister weighed in at 10 lbs, 3 oz. and 2.) we were planning a cross-country move on Jan. 1, Y2K.
Do you remember Y2K?  Many people were concerned that all the computers in the world would spontaneously implode at  midnight on New Year's Eve, because their internal clocks weren't programmed for a year larger than 1999.  Do you think we wondered whether it was safe to bring a brand new baby into such a world?  No, instead we rented a Ryder truck!
The Girl was born at 10:34 p.m. at 10lbs., 12oz.  December 21st was also my Nana's birthday, so it was nice to share.  Her birth was somewhat dramatic, and she entered the world a very purpley shade of blue.  Like many "larger" babies she had low blood sugar, and because of the drama she wasn't breathing well, so they put her in the Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit.
In the NICU, she was the biggest baby they had ever had!  The nurses had to go the the pediatrics floor to get diapers and clothes to fit her, since they were used to premies.

It all turned out just fine though and she came home at 3 days like most newborns.  The only problem was, we'd been mistakenly informed that she might be a boy!

Drama continued in her life, as she spent only 10 days in her first home. On day 3 there, her loving older (18 months old) sister reached up to look into her bed (a suitcase) on top of the dresser (I know!  Not too smart!) since we were in the middle of moving.  She tipped the suitcase and the baby over, onto the floor!  I heard one loud cry from the baby, and a panicked cry from the toddler, and rushed into the bedroom.  Lifting the pillow and suitcase from the baby, I found her sleeping peacefully on the floor, right where she had fallen.  I was frightened and kept checking her for damage, but she never felt a thing.  As it turned out, she had a penchant for crashing.

 By day 5 at home, we were wondering when she was going to wake up and start crying.  This baby seemed to sleep all the time!  On her 10th day of life, I got onto a plane with these two precious girls, leaving their father and grandfather to pack a moving truck and bring it all the NY.  Both girls slept the entire plane ride!  What a mercy for Mom!  her middle name is Butterfly, and if we'd stayed where we were, I feel quite sure she would have been called that all her life, it got so much attention.

Our new home was at a Christian camp where we worked.  I worked part-time for a couple of months and then full-time, and Grandma was there in the afternoons with the girls.  During the summer, when camp was in session, they had a babysitter. Consequently, I don't have many pictures of this particular season of life.

She's cute though, with big blues eyes and a bald head.  She was a thumb-sucker, so she slept well and long.   When she was tired, which was often, she would rub
her nose on the shoulder of the person holding her, and she loved to rub something silky with her fingers.
Before her first birthday, we left the camp.  After a few weeks stay at a temporary house, we moved into an apartment in SGF, making four residences in a year.

That's about when the crashing started.  I could fill a photo album with pictures of black eyes, fat lips and dented foreheads, all her own.  At one point I took her to the eye doctor to make sure she didn't have a vision problem, such a depth perception.  (If you're wondering, you can do this simple test at home:  hold up a paper towel tube and ask her to stick both fingers into the ends at once.  If she overshoots, there's a problem.)  She was fine though; what she lacked was risk aversion and luck.  We visited urgent care and the emergency room several times, for household accidents of various sorts, and called poison control at least twice (she ate Vicks Vap-o-rub, which is dangerous in large quantities, and drank hydrogen peroxide, which is not)!  In spite of herself she made it to her second birthday, and managed to sprout some hair, too!

We bought a house when she was 3, where she crashed down the basement stairs and broke her arm above the elbow, requiring surgery.  Shortly after that she crashed her bike on the same arm, leaving a huge scar.  After that, the crashing seems to have slowed down.  We sold that house after 5 years, and in quick succession she obtained addresses 6, 7, 8, 9 10 and 11.  That's an average of once per year!
Home schooling began after 2nd grade, and move 6.  I never realized until I brought them home how much it would change our relationship.  I think I know them better and have insights into their personalities and needs because they don't spent 8 hours or more per day in someone else's care.  This led to some discoveries about the Girl's work style!  She never had a hard time in school, and at home we are still figuring out how to make it work.  She's truly a people person in that regard because she wants me to do everything with her.
This beautiful young lady is mine?!  She would rather do something distasteful with a group of people, than be left alone.  She's a morning person who can't hide her exhaustion in the evening, but she hates to go to bed if everyone else is still up.  She's a cookie baker, likes her room neat, and loves to help put the Little Princess down for naps and wake her up again.  As far as school work goes, making connections between words seems to be her thing, and she inspired me to add Latin to her curriculum last year.
This summer, she found a new hobby, though it still involves some crashing:

We hope she'll be testing for her Yellow 2 belt in tae kwon do soon.  She goes to lessons several days a week.  She's been baking and selling cookies, returning bottles and cans, and rolling change to make money for her own lessons while we go through a rough patch.  I'm so proud of her for finding something she enjoys that is all her own, and working so hard to make it happen. 

In the crazy all-around-the Northeast life that we have led, one never knows what a year will bring.  Some possibilities for the new year:  oral surgery and braces?  Another move, this time out of the country?  Probably another 5 inches in growth, making her taller than me?  She'd like some more friends, since we seem to be settling down for a few months.

Happy Birthday, Girl.  Can't wait to see what the year brings.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Long-Awaited Light-hut Blog Post! Also, Gourds.

It's here!
My camera, which I left in a New Jersey church back in September, arrived in today's mail.  I've been using my Insignia video camera, which also takes stills, but it doesn't have a flash to it's been hard to get good shots indoors at some events.  I'm excited to have my Kodak back.

Now, I can post about the Botany Light Hut!
I am using Apologia Botany with the Girl and the Mayor.  Back in August we built the light hut to grow plants all year round, we live in a cold climate.  I've since discovered that the plants can't really survive in there, but it's good for getting them started and it's used for several experiments in the course of the year.

The mayor actually took these pictures, and he's only 7, so they are what they are. I let him take them because I was busy and the Girl was kind of hogging the procedure.

This was our school room and project area back on August and September.  *Sigh.*  Things have changed...

The light hut is made from a simple cardboard box. 

Then we glued aluminum foil all over the inside.

There is a hole in the top on the right in this photo.

The light source is a "work light kit" I purchased at Ace Hardware.  It's not what's recommended but was a handy-dandy solution for me!  I just tied a knot in it so it couldn't slip through the hole into the light hut.  We put in a low- wattage compact fluorescent bulb (it is supposed to be 15, I think), and voila!  Light hut!

There is an aluminum foil curtain over it to help keep in warmth and light.
It is blindingly bright.

At this time we planted basil and chives.  We also put in some lima bean plants the Mayor had been growing since last Spring.

The light hut was moved to NY in the first trip last fall, so it wasn't along for the ride when we rolled the house over in September.  We succeeded in harvesting chives, but everything else died.  It may have been overwatered.  Recently, we started some wildflower seeds, but they also died.  Currently, we're growing two bean seeds, one in a white Styrofoam cup and the other in a black cup with a black lid, so that we can watch it grow towards the light in a pencil hole poked in the bottom of the cup. 

In non-Botany news, we made a brief visit to the Mayans of Central America and Mexico during our history studies.  We were supposed to make a gourd birdfeeder.  I had not planned ahead well enough to have a dried gourd on hand to paint, but guess what?  My mom had some!  Nana comes through again.

Gourds are so gross looking (when they have been out drying in a dusty garage), that the Little Princess wouldn't use the bathroom when I had put the gourd into the sink. 
But I washed them off and scrubbed them with steel wool, and then sanded them.  We cut a hole in the big one, and let the others speak to us about what they wanted to be when they grew up!
Then, we had to cut them open, which required a saw.  There was a hole saw involved in putting the hole in the big one.

After that the insides were scooped out.  The fibers, which used to be flesh, reminded me of loofah material.  I wish I had thought to keep the seeds, because they could have been made into jewelry.

Since we'd gotten them all wet, we left them to dry overnight and called Nana again to get some shellac to coat them.  She actually brought liquid plastic.  I did this part myself, with one assistant, in front of an open kitchen window, as it was smelly and super- sticky.  That had to dry another day, after which we sanded some of them.  Finally, we went to work painting them with tempera paints.

We ended up with two bowls with lids, two ladles and the birdhouse.  No hammers, in spite of the way he is holding that one in this picture.  There's actually another coat of paint still planned for the birdhouse, but I will let you see it anyway.

I think this project counts for both Botany and History, because the birdhouse was heavily influenced by Birds and Blooms magazine.  This month's edition happened to feature homemade birdhouses, with instructions in what colors to paint it and where to hand to attract certain types of birds.  Birds are pollinators, and pollinators are necessary for botany.  I kept getting confused and thinking we were doing it for Botany class, anyway.
I'm so glad to finally be able to show you the light hut.  Mostly I am glad to have my camera, and chip full of pictures of my kids, back in my possession.

We are now studying Ancient Greece, so for coming attractions I will mention that we made plaster frescos according to Minoan style a few days ago.  The Sleeping Giant is very proud of hers.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Of Spelling and Bees

A few weeks ago The Girls participated in the Spelling Bee at Crandall Public Library, sponsored by our local weekly newspaper, The Chronicle.

We had one in each age group.  The Girl Who Loves to Be Blogged scored 4th in her age bracket, and the Sleeping Giant came in third in hers.  She also placed second a year and a half ago, winning the dictionary we really needed.  Her picture was printed in the newspaper.  The Girl who Loves to be Blogged was master of the pregnant pause; she had the audience on the edge of their seats every time, thinking she didn't know her word. 

Homeschoolers were very well represented at the library bee.  I believe one homeschooler won the younger age bracket, and another placed second.  Either that or second and third.  One of the public-schooled kids' moms talked to me afterward about homeschooling.  It's funny, I never planned to like doing this (homeschooling), but now I find myself wanting to talk strangers into it, and coach them through the first scary choices.  I remember how overwhelmed I was when I first had to choose a curriculum and attempted those first scripted lessons.  But I digress.   I actually spoke to the editor of the Chronicle right after the bee about covering more homeschool events and homeschoolers.  The paper publishes a senior student of the week from local schools weekly.  I may have missed it, but I haven't ever seen a homeschooler of the week.  So I have a little crusade on where I plan to point out fun local things our scholars are doing, until Mr. Frost gets on board.

Today, there was another Spelling Bee for the six-county area (or was it 9) covered by the  Times Union newspaper.  In order for a student to go to Regionals for Scripps National, they have to win a local school level bee.  A homeschooler needs to have an association with which to participate in a bee equivalent to the local level.  This was it.  And there was  a cash prize!  We watched Akeelah and the Bee in the van on the way down there this morning, to get into the right frame of mind.

We had to drive an hour to get to the church where the Bee would be held.  Only 17 students came, in grades 4-8.  I certainly hoped there would be more, but I guess not every homeschooler is a much of a nerd as I am, and certainly not all in English.  The Girl who Loves to be Blogged learned how to spell 'pseudonym' this week, and joked "I should have put a pseudonym on the registration slip."  She kept spelling this word to herself, hoping it would be asked.

The competition was tough!  Only 4 of 17 students dropped out in the first round, mostly the younger students.  Only 1 in the second round.  The word that got him: auburn.  3 students dropped out in the third round, and here was an interesting word:  yippee!  This is the way that I would spell this word, and it's the dictionary spelling, but I have to say I am a bit surprised that this word has a 'correct' spelling.  So was the girl who spelled it 'yipee'.  My girls made it to the 4th round, where they were foiled by 'desirability' and 'sensibility.'  At the sixth round, we finally went down to two students, who battled it out through 4 rounds, spelling:  pedicure, vintage, sanitary, counterclockwise, versatile, semester, exoskeleton, gimmick and finally, enzyme.  My Girls were frustrated because they could easily spell most of the words that were asked after they dropped out!  There really is some element of luck to this process, getting the right word.

So, we're not going to the Regionals at Proctor's Theater in February. But we'll keep at it!  I believe that avid reading makes many a good speller, but we also study Latin, so that will help too.  We've got one more year for the Giant and 3 for the Girl.  I also got on board for another challenge:  The Geography Bee in January. I knew it existed and I met a mom today who, I hope, will be e-mailing me about the local one.  Yippee!