Friday, September 30, 2011

Deer, Trikes and Brownies

This is the week before the October Kairos weekend at the Torres Unit, Tx.  Here is a video for anyone who is interested in Kairos Prison Ministry International.

So..pretty much, I have been living and breathing Kairos prep around here for the past month. I have been given the opportunity (non-Kairos related) to preach every third Sunday at the Torres Unit..starting in December. I am looking forward to this.

But Holy Moly..for an HOUR! Who preaches for an hour? For that matter? Who listens for an hour? It will be good for me. I also have the chance to preach again at Grace in a couple of weeks. And all of this? Has brought me back to taking time to sit still in the word. And for this, I am grateful.

But ministry aside my daily actions are pretty much the same. And the routines with the kids are also pretty much the same.

      The deer continue to greet Big B and I every morning. A new development is that some of them are now coming back for lunch.  They like to see what sort of leftovers the Rugrats will throw their way.

The weather is starting to cool off a little. So the kids are spending a lot of time riding trikes and watching/listening to windchimes on the deck.

and most importantly..we have discovered (or rediscovered) BROWNIES.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Rockin' Evolvin' Revolvin' Revolutionaries

 It is Thursday, here at Rugrat Ranch. Meaning..the band has reminded Miss Applesauce Pants that it is time for this week's update.

Really?, asks Miss Applesauce Pants. Because I just blogged yesterday. 

 She is greeted by stone silence followed by a loud sigh. Did you write about our revolving?  asks Blue Monkey. Miss Applesauce is puzzled. Huh?   

You know..our re-vol-ving? Like we're revolvers and stuff?! Blue Monkey is exasperated . He gives Miss Applesauce pants his best, are a traitor look.

There is a giggle from the couch.

I think he means REVOLUTIONARIES, clarifies Black Rat. You should write about how the band are (another giggle) Revolving Revolutionaries. More giggling. Or...How about Evolving Revolving Revolutionaries. Tell the world who we are!!!

So this is the tale..all honest, I promise.

Every single day the band reads their favourite book.John, Paul, George & Ben by Lane Smith. Several times a day, actually. Miss Applesauce has never been sure WHY this is the favorite. But she and the kids read..almost in unison..this book every day.

This past Monday, the high-school kids started their co-op. This meant the band (gasp) skipped rehearsal that day. Instead they used their little ears to eavesdrop on the teens.

The teens were discussing revolutions..and revolutionaries..and what that means.  But no one of ever talked about the Revolutionary War. The Band could not believe it. The fact that the teens were discussing revolutions AFTER 1800 was not the point.  Because the band? They know this story.

So on they were reading John, Paul, George and Ben the band asked Miss Applesauce to change the names in the book to the names of the band members. For two days there was much debate as to who fit who. In the end it was decided.

Blue Monkey is John Hancock. Why? Because he is the BOLDEST of the whole band. He is never afraid to speak, run, walk or write first. Even if he sometimes introduces himself to people by saying,Hi. I'm Blue Monkey. Do you like video games? I would talk to you, but actually, I'm shy. Most important Blue Monkey  likes to write his name Really BIG. Just like in the book.

Bug is Paul Revere. That was an easy one. He is always banging things, ringing bells and the noisiest of everyone.

Next came George Washington. Who should be George Washington? Well it had to be someone honest. Even though Hurricane J and Little Man C have been busy with family stuff this week, the band voted Little Man C as the only truly honest one of the batch. 

 Black Rat made it clear that she would have to be Ben Franklin. She took one look at the band and said..I HAVE To be the clever one. The band agreed.

..and then there is Independent Tom. It was UNANIMOUS. This HAS to be Hurricane J. After all he ALWAYS does his own thing. I mean really, expands Blue Monkey,we have to chase him everywhere!!!

 and so we retell the story with our latest, more recent is a sample of John, Paul, Ben and George by Lane Smith. The revised version:

...Fortunately, Bug was a NOISY man. After his midnight ride., every Minuteman, woman and child knew who was coming and what they'd be wearing.....

....The Americans needed to formally state their separation from the king. Who better, than Hurricane J, an INDEPENDENT man, to write The Declaration of Independence?

Simply signing such a document was treasonous. And dangerous. Black Rat, a CLEVER woman, said it best: "We must all hang together," she quipped, or assuredly we shall all hang separately."

One might think twice about signing his name. Not Blue Monkey. A BOLD man, he was the first to scribble his autograph.....

..The war was won thanks to GENERAL LITTLE MAN C. Everyone thought he would make a great king for the new United States of America. But Little Man C was an HONEST man. "The last thing we need is another King Little Man C" he said. "President Little Man C, however has a nice ring to it."

now the book in it's original version is much longer and Miss Applesauce Pants and the Exploding Diaper Band HIGHLY recommend it. Because we have excellent taste, and all that.

So that is how the band has become evolving revolving revolutionaries.

When we are not being revolutionaries, we have band practice. Today we practiced in the morning in unison with a U2 c.d. Blue Monkey felt we should learn from the experts. We practiced ALL MORNING. U2 would be proud, no doubt.

Then just before lunch, we went on our Nature Walk. We could hear Led Zeppelin echoing through the hills. There is a biker ralley across the highway from Rancho Rugrat. They were playing Led Zeppelin all morning.

Miss Applesauce Pants stopped under a pecan tree. She stopped to watch the band as they played with the innocence of children.

She watched as Bug squealed and giggled NOISILY down a trail.

Blue Monkey was practising racing with the speed of a cheetah into unknown territory. Why? Because it was wise to be fast if you are BOLD. How did he know this? Because Black Rat is CLEVER..and she told him so.

Black Rat looked at Miss Applesauce Pants.

You know,we are cooler than the Sons of Liberty. WE are the ROCKIN' EVOLVIN' REVOLVIN' REVOLUTIONARIES! And then she left to pick a flower.

 Miss Applesauce replied with upmost confidence, most certainly are!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Boy Has Wheels...and the rest is small potatoes..

 It's true. Austen got his license today! No more squishing with little peoples..or less squishing with little peoples, anyway. No more relying on friends and family to drive him places.

Those of you who know Austen's history, know that this is a BIG deal!!

So we celebrated by going to Mc Donalds!

NO. This is not Austen's choice. But the elementary kids wanted McD' we took them as a bribe. Austen was a good sport.

After a series of small errands and picking up Bug. Austen is free!

Look at that grin!

And yes..we do ask him to pick up the mail and milk.

I think I'm gonna like this!

I've already got him booked for a series of errands for the upcoming Kairos weekend.

You know, small things, like can you pick up 35 lbs. of chicken salad from Bricks at 9a.m. and drive it to the church in x town?

oh..and can you come back Thursday and help package cookies and grill hamburgers?

Yup! I'm really liking this new license arrangement!

WE also started co-op this week! It was nice to have these kids back this year. I really did miss them last year..but I am also glad we took our little hiatus.

It is the Return of Apples to Apples..and muffins. Some things remain the same year after year after year after year...

Experimenting with sentences....and then silly sentences..and then even sillier sentences.

Bug stays  busy with pots. He is not the least bit interested in what the older kids are doing.

 The teens move to the den. Away from the younger people who sometimes think the older kids make good climbing walls. The research on Millard Fillmore, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Beacher Stowe, and Charles Darwin begins...

And Bug continues playing with pots! The record is 4 pots stacked before THE BIG CRASH.

Bug's adventures are not limited to pots and pans.  Bug has also been busy refining his fashion sense.

He now wears Princess Pull-ups! We tried them on during an emergency one day. Low and behold he did NOT pull them off. As a matter of fact, he was heart-broken when we had to take them off his body.

We tried to return to regular diapers. We really did. Bug tears them off.

Not a problem. We bought Clifford Pull-ups. Nothing Happening!

So Princess Pull-Ups it is!

The boy has fashion sense. What can I say?

Super stained (but still the favorite) alien shirt and Princess Pull-Ups. Oh..and the commentary.  Bug loves to tell us his pants are pretty.

He's modest like that.

That's it folks.

One boy with a new coolio, doolio drivers license, and one very modest boy with Pretty Princess Pull-ups...playing ball together below.

and rumours that the college kids are busy, exhausted and doing okay.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Pool Rules

It is mid-September. Every morning we get hints of Fall. I awake at 6ish and open windows throughout the house.

  Big B and I sit on our back deck and quietly sip our coffee while watching cardinals (who knew we had cardinals around here?) and one brownish bird as they enjoy the birdhouse buffet.  We have given all the birds names.

Look, Big B will say. There is Red Bird (see how original we are). Where is..oh..there is Spare Parts. I didn't see him.

We sometimes make up imaginary stories as to what our bird friends are doing.

We continue to feed the deer. Big B has befriended the deer. As he goes out to feed the chickens, they start to peer out of the brush.  

Go to the back, he will tell them....and they DO.

Very loudly I might add. We feed the deer left-overs and several loaves of bread every morning.

Big B and I then return to our coffee, watching the wild-life and enjoying the breeze. Yes there is a nice breeze in the morning. And? the leaves  are falling. I still have not been able to figure out what trees have leaves...but leaves are falling. I become hopeful that we will have fall weather soon.

But by 11 a.m..the temperatures are back in the high 90's early 100's.

The Rancho Rugrat kids and I swim. A LOT. Because, swimming breaks up our day and makes it bearable to go outside in the later afternoons.

You see..we like to be outside. But by 9:30 (after playing outside and venturing on our daily nature walk..recently turned Star Wars adventure) we are back inside.

Miss Applesauce Pants (that's me) and the Exploding Diaper Band (see previous posts) have band practice. Blue Monkey and Bug LIKE to practice every single day.  The rest of us oblige.

Then we all return to the business of playing. But the words of Blue Monkey playing is HARD work.

And hard work, is exhausting.

So after lunch, the exploding diaper dancers and rhythm section take naps.

Blue Monkey, Black Rat and Miss Applesauce Pants usually read,  write..and play games, while the band rests. But by 2ish, everyone becomes whiny.

So to solve this whinyness dilemma, the band swims as soon as the dancers/percussionists wake up.

And THAT is how Miss Applesauce and the Exploding Diaper Band acquired their pool rules.

Blue Monkey felt that Miss Applesauce Pants and her son Austen were not adequate lifeguards. But not to worry..he assured everyone, I'm a lifeguard..really.Right Black Rat? 

Black Rat usually reminds him he shouldn't lie. Blue Monkey is nonplussed. Oh..she doesn't know, he assures us.

 Blue Monkey stations himself by the ladder of our above ground circular 4 foot deep pool. He keeps his floatie with him. This is very important..because,you know..he can't BREATHE under water! Blue Monkey then  orchestrates everyone's play and doles out rules.

So now you have them..Pool Rules by Blue Monkey.

1. Everyone must wear clothes.(No naked diaper band allowed).

2.  The radio should be on JACK FM because we know those songs.

3. ALL pool toys MUST BE IN THE POOL.

4. All bath toys MUST BE IN THE POOL.

5. Babies should be placed in the floating cooler so they can be pulled by Miss Applesauce Pants.

6. Once Miss Applesauce is pulling the babies in the cooler..everyone should float in their tube and attach to the cooler turned a conga line.

7. Miss Applesauce can pull the train of tubes fast (And the lifeguard will be at the end to watch) so we can make a whirl pool.

8. Once the whirl pool has settled everyone must look for the diving toys..specifically the shark, the clam and..possibly the Lost City of Atlantis.

9. When everyone dries off and changes clothes. Miss Applesauce should just not bother changing. She can just stay wet..or throw clothes on over her swimsuit..because the band is too busy to wait for her!

10. When the band eats their popsicles on the deck..the exploding diaper band should still wear clothes. (See no naked diaper band rule Number 1)

So for all my West Coast friends..who don't know if their kids have school or not due to TEA strike?

Just see what you could be doing? You could trade in those school rules for pool rules.

Just sayin'!

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Whatever Works

   It is that time of year. Kids are back in school. New school supplies, new teachers, new tennis shoes..all that good stuff.

Homeschoolers are gearing up in their own style. Some families purchase new curriculum, co-ops are starting up, park-days are returning into families weekly routines, etc.

But almost to a tee..all families whether they public school, private school or homeschool, are taking time to ponder. To consider learning styles of their children and educational styles of their choice. To evaluate what has worked, what has not...and to look forward to what lies headed.

So in that way, this year is no different. I have often labeled myself a Waldorf-inspired unschooler. And some years..that was actually appropriate. But more often than not..we hit the Whatever Works Approach.

I have probably mentioned this approach before. It is that blend between the ideals in your imagination..and the reality of the personalities in your home.

It is the ability to imagine a home (or family children's care) with all eco-friendly, natural toys, no electronics, only healthy foods and a magical rhythm to our day.

It is the ability to take those ideals and say..oops..Maybe that isn't going to work after all. And to laugh at the reality in front of you. To take the components from your imagination that work in real life and blend your imagination with  ideas from the imaginations of others. To embrace the collaborative imagination (through much trial and error). To allow the real live personalities in your home to create a rhythm and lifestyle together.

And I have found myself at this place, once again. I had lots of grand delusions of what this Fall would look like. I made some hard-core decisions at the beginning. Absolutely no t.v. unless we had a really bad weather day. No way am I going to homeschool other people's children. (I get asked every year..I always respectfully decline). No swimming or field trips because I didn't want to mess with the bureaucracy in registered care.I didn't like this part..but really I felt the need to become registered as soon as possible.

Needless to say, we are still not registered. Financial issues and some logistical details more than anything. Lucky for me, the families here do not care at this time. We will get there..but now we are swimming,going to the Homeschool Park Day, the library and the grocery store every week. So I will take longer to get through this process so that we can continue with "field trips" and swimming.

I am thoroughly enjoying having the addition of two elementary aged homeschoolers in our home. After a few weeks of getting to know eachother and figuring what we want this year to look like, the kids decided they want to do what the older (teenage) kids do. They work on one or two workbook pages of math (okay..the older ones work through problem sets), they write something (anything) and read for 1-2 hours a day..or I read to them. The rest of the day, they do whatever they want.  These kids spend more time in formal study than my own kids would EVER spend at this age. But it is what they are craving at this time.

We have lots of plastic toys. Sometimes we eat pure junk. For example, last week? I was sick for a couple of days. I wanted to skip are "soup making" day. I was fighting a headache, and feeling really nauseous when  I dropped a gallon of milk on the floor. The one year old started dancing in the milk.  The 6 year old walked through the puddle of milk and left a milk trail.. with CandyLand in hand... asking when we were going to play. (Because we HAVE to play before doing any math!)

I announced we were skipping soup.

Oh my..the opposition.  I caved.

The kids fixed and ate Ramen Noodles.I didn't even know we had ramen noodles. We found them buried in the pantry. I might as well have handed them a bag of chips and is lunch. But instead? We enjoyed the Ramen Noodles. We also went to Sonic last week..and ate frozen pizza.

But the biggest change of all?  We  spend Thursdays on a screen time blitz.

Kids bring their own D.S.'s,I blog (and the kids sometimes help), we watch movies and eat popcorn in my bedroom-turned--movie-room. You bedroom which I swore I was not opening to public use. What was I thinking? We LOVE Thursdays.

Now we still keep some Waldorfish components.  Daily nature walks, a nature table, art and music daily..and LOTS of play. But I'm pretty sure you can find these in other educational styles as well. So I no longer pretend (even to myself) that we are Waldorf-Inspired.

There are some ideals that are not negotiable. For instance, mutual respect. Respect is not negotiable. We spend much time discussing kindness and respect. What does this mean? What does this look like? How can I be kind?

But mostly? As far as time consuming activities?  We seem to be spending time around meals. We created a daily/weekly rhythm..which we (oh my) posted on a bulletin board. Those who know me know I'm not a bulletin board person. Along with the weekly menu. (actually..need these things to be registered anyway). And the kids INSITED that we add MEALS TOGETHER for daily rhythm...sort of almost a HOUSE RULE.

And my, have our meals evolved. The kids now help fix breakfast almost every day. We set the table with a table-cloth, napkins and silverware at least twice a day. Much of our weekly rhythm revolves around food. Would be nice if I could actually cook.

But the kitchen IS the center of everything around here. It's where most of our conversations and a good deal of play happen. Wouldn't change this for anything.

And so we have evolved..into a weekly rhythm..which the kids have asked I post for your pleasure;)

Mondays: bake muffins, (high-school co-op starts in 2 weeks!), nature craft, library and homeschool Park Day.

Tuesdays: trip to grocery store (to pick our fruit, purchase ingredients for soup and get a lollipop from Ms. Ellen), puppets, and clay.

Wednesday: make soup, chalk art and dragon math

Thursdays: media blitz (games and movies), swimming and baking cookies.

Fridays: fishing/swimming, pizza making and painting.

Every day : play, play, Nature Walk, play, band practice, play and meals together!

..and there you have it. Our Official Schedule created by a committee and everything! For now anyway.

Let's see what happens when the teens arrive.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Growing Up by Dancing Bug

Okay. This is Bug here. It appears everyone else in the band has something to say. True..I am still working on my words..but I can sure THINK a thing or two. So I am here to let you guys know...

I am growing up!

Want proof? Look at me. I am now facing forward in the car-seat!!!

And this is just the beginning. Now? I can dance in my car-seat. Austen tries to wear headphones..but I can just sing and dance on my own, anyway. Why? Because I LOVE TO DANCE.  (And Austen? He really does like to sit with me..he just pretends I'm noisy. We have lots of fun together)

But the truth is..Austen plays drums with me.

Actually he plays the drum..he practices his capoeira rhythms...and I sit on the drum. It sounds different when I sit on it.  It sounds different when I stand on it too. But body just starts moving.

I can't help it. Then I have to stomp my feet..and then..well..what can I say? I'm just made to dance!

Now I'm not a classical Camille over at sardinesinacan . Nope ..that's not me. I'm a more fee-style stomper. Especially when the band plays. Like these guys.

Only..I think I need a little more practice. Actually..we all do.

Which reminds me..I'm in this band..and they call me one of the "exploding diaper babies". Can you believe it?! I try not to wear a diaper. I take them off every chance I get!

But MomNom (who everyone else calls Miss Applesauce Pants..I don't know why) thinks I should wear a diaper. I mean really? But MomNom? She's just kinda quirky that way. She has other weird rules for us to.!! She's killing us here. All of us have jobs.

For instance..Blue Monkey and Black Rat collect chicken eggs and make tea every morning. Why? Because there is a rumor that ice-tea is the house wine of the South. Momnom says we (as in all the parents, Big B aka DadDA's friends, and us band members) go through 3 pictures of tea a day. That is a lotta tea making.

Also? Blue Monkey and Black Rat are supposed to offer tea to anyone who comes over? I try to offer tea. But usually? I just dance with a tea-pot. Because if I hold MY teapot over my mouth..I can make it sound like a trumpet while I dance.

So back to jobs. My job? To feed the deer and to clean tables. I am an excellent table cleaner. You give me a cloth..I will wipe a table. I'm pretty good at sorting laundry too. MomNom hangs them on the fireplace..and I put them back on the chair..where they belong. Sometimes..I just run and put them back in the dryer. I don't know what Momnom would do without me sometimes.

I mean..she doesn't even put my shoes in the dryer when I am not wearing them. I take care of that for her. And speaking of shoes. I have to tell her I need my shoes. Shoose...shoose. I tell her all the time. I mean..without shoes I can't go outside (too many stickers) I bring them to her. 

When I  bring her my shoes after my nap, Momnom tells me no ..not now. It's too hot.

I don't know what she's talking about. I tell her over and over Shoose..Shoose..'side I'm working on the P sound..but I say please and everything.

But no..another one of those quirks. We only go outside when it is in the double digits..whatever that means.

(sigh) Which means..I just have to dance some more. I can't help it. Honest.

Last week at community dining, I was so tired. I was rubbing my eyes and trying to finish my food and Uncle Ricci played some music. I couldn't help it..right there in my body just started moving. I could barely keep my eyes open..but I could dance in my seat. Have I told you I'm a good dancer?

I've been trying to show Blue Monkey and Black Rat that I'm getting bigger. I am learning to climb. I just get a little stuck sometimes, that's all.

But most of all..I can pick my own clothes. Here I am in my FAVORITE Alien shirt. I think I should wear my Alien shirt and nothing else. But, once again, MomNom has other ideas. Back to that diaper thing..

Now I don't know if you know it or not. But my band has been trying to sell worms to buy more instruments. Can you believe they kept the worms in a fishbowl in the laundry room?!. I try to tell them this is wrong.

Shoose..shoose..'side KEESE!  I tell them.I even bang on the worms. They just don't listen. So..I have been trying to free the worms whenever I can!

Black Rat thought she was smart and moved the worms on the fire-place mantel. I have been trying to figure out how to rescue them. But I think my problems are solved. You know why? Because yesterday we received a package. Our band got a whole box of instruments from a friend in MA. She wrote a note saying this was for the Rugrats and everything!!!

The band has been discussing sending her the whole worm farm..but there is still a debate going on. Personally? I think we should let the worms go! And that we have more drums and stuff? They will let them free. I sure hope so.

But Me?

I am busy growing up..and I know who I am.

I am a worm advocate who likes to dance..or stomp..actually...with tea-pot in hand.