Monday, April 30, 2012

Homeschool Record Keeping


When a family is first learning about homeschooling, they often wonder what records they should keep.  The first step should be to read up on the homeschooling laws in your state.  Some states will require a portfolio of work be turned in to the school district at regular intervals.  Some states won't require any record keeping at all. 

We live in Texas, which is one of the most (possibly THE most?) lenient homeschooling states.  We have no requirements at all for record keeping.  However, I think it's still important to keep records.  Should the question arise, I want to be able to prove I have been educating my children.  The records could also be helpful if we do decide to send them to school in the future.  Many homeschooling families also keep high school transcripts to assist with college applications, and as someone who is somewhat organizationally challenged at times, I figure it's wise to start keeping records now so I have time to get into the habit and learn what works and doesn't work for our family.

I have been keeping a 3-inch binder full of all the girls' schoolwork.  During the week, I put all the completed papers in a folder and then at the end of the week (okay, sometimes two weeks), I file them in the big binder according to subject.  It's hard to see the "big picture" in the moment, so I just save everything.  Sometime around Christmas and again at the end of the school year, I go through and ditch most of the papers.  I only keep the tests for things like spelling and math.  I keep the reading assessments I do at the beginning of each year.  For subjects that we don't regularly take tests in, I keep a representative sample of work.  I save some things from roughly the beginning, middle and end of the year to show progress was made. 

This method has worked pretty well, but it has flaws that I'd like to take care of.  First of all, I've still ended up with a full 3-inch binder at the end of each year for Sierra.  And that wouldn't be so bad even if I ended up storing 12 of them for her.  Problem is, I've got three kids and aside from the physical space all those binders will take up over time, I think it will also be a bit frustrating trying to locate a certain thing for a certain child when faced with such a daunting stack of papers.  Also, we have some things that don't fit in a binder that I would still like to save.  And finally, some of our best work doesn't have an associated worksheet to really show what was done.  Many things, like science fair projects or history activities, are documented with pictures and videos. 

I've decided I either need to come up with hard copies of the electronic media, or come up with electronic media of the hard copies so everything can be organized and in one spot.  I could print out pictures or put pictures and videos on a flash drive and file that with my binder of worksheets.  But I think it will be easier to scan the relevant worksheets and tests and create files on the computer. 

I've set up a "portfolios" folder which contains a folder for each child.  If I open one of those, there is a folder for each grade level and those open up to folders for each subject.  It's extremely easy to copy pictures and videos into the appropriate folders and scanning won't be a big chore once it's part of my regular organization routine.  I think I will likely keep the last 2-3 years worth of important papers in hard copy and the rest on the computer.  Of course, with this kind of system, back up is extremely important.  We already have an external hard drive with automatic back ups, but an extra flash drive is prudent too.  Of course there are still keepsake items that I'll keep on hand, but I think going electronic is the only way to reasonably keep full files on all three kids. 

We're still relatively new to this...do you have a fabulous idea I'm missing out on?  How do you keep records for your homeschoolers?

Sunday, April 29, 2012

We Miss You Max

Today is Max's birthday. He would have been 4 years old. The time we had to spend with him was much too short, but oh so sweet. 

I remember so much of Max's life. I remember the day his mommy found out he was on his way. I remember feeling him kick while he was growing in her tummy. I remember planning his baby shower. I remember finding out he was breech and the phone call from his daddy letting us know he was here.

I remember how he felt to hold. His shape, his weight distribution was so different from my babies, and so similar to his sister's. I remember visiting in those early days and chatting with his mommy while they nursed.

I remember his family deciding to test him for Duchenne. I remember the day they were trying to get the results from the doctor and talking to his mommy while she swam in a sea of uncertainty and "what ifs". I remember the phone call that the results were in and they were not good. I remember sitting in a dim coffee shop soon after that day. 3 friends gathered, one sweet baby boy hugged between them.
I remember how much joy Max packed into his short life. I remember seeing our town rally around him at the annual PPMD fundraiser his family put together. I remember watching him play. I remember him shouting "lights! lights!" in complete glee when he saw Christmas lights on the last evening we got to spend with him.
I remember you, Max. And I love you.  Today we celebrate your life.  We will always remember you and keep you in our hearts.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Garden Check-In

 It's definitely a rough year for the garden.  We have had continual pest problems.   I have been spraying with neem oil on a regular basis and that has helped a lot, but I let things get too far gone before I started that and the pests keep trying to creep back in.  I'd say I spray the neem about twice a week, always at the end of the day (so the sun combined with the spray doesn't burn the leaves) and on days when we watered in the morning (so the plants aren't drought stressed).  I find more dead caterpillars than live ones now, and there are fewer missing leaves.

We finished planting everything for spring almost a month ago and I did a full picture update then, so today I went outside and took pictures of everything again for comparison.

The potato patch is nearing the end of its life.  The plants have put up with caterpillars and a certain 70 pound labrador running through them.  They've bloomed and are showing some signs of blight, so they'll be ready to dig up really soon. It's hard to see in this picture, but in the far corner (nearest to that ramp into the shed) we do have several squash and cucumber plants thriving.  Some of my seed never sprouted, so I bought a new packet I will plant there this weekend.
Just to check things out, I pulled up one of the plants.  I didn't do too much digging, but these were the potatoes I easily found.  I suspect there are about 40-50 pounds of golf ball sized potatoes out there all together.  Not as high a yield as we've gotten in the past, but some of the plants were completely defoliated by caterpillars, so not surprising.

Over in the strawberry bed, the plants look healthy and we've let them put out some berries.  I debated pinching off all the blooms so they would put their energy towards plant growth, but in the end, decided to just let it go.  We'll hopefully keep these going through the winter and get a big crop from them next year.
Here is the strawberry bed (on the bottom) and bell pepper bed at the top. 
The bell peppers are doing really well and have all just set fruit.  The gypsy bell peppers are vying for "first pick of the season". These are similar to red bell peppers in taste, but the size/shape of a banana pepper
 Here are the broccoli plants at the bottom and the beans at the top.  The broccoli is getting leggy (from the warm weather, I think) but it is starting to produce.  The beans are doing well in the hugelkultur bed and starting to climb some fencing Josh put in for them.
The onions look ROUGH.  This is what surprised me so much about the caterpillars.  Normally, onions are the last to get attacked, but these were eaten down to nothing in some places.  They are starting to bulb out, so we'll have some onions, but not the yield we would normally get.
This is the bed that has garlic planted all around the edge and was the last to be attacked by caterpillars.  It's also being watered through ollas rather than drip line.  These tomato plants are doing really well and basil is coming up between them.
These tomato plants look healthy and are starting to put out blooms
These are the onion beds that were already in rough shape from the early spring flood we got.  The caterpillars didn't help the situation and, as you can see, there certainly aren't rows of healthy plants here.  I'll be surprised if we get much of anything from these.
The carrots are still very happy though!  Only the outer rows got nibbled by caterpillars, so they haven't been under as much stress as everything else.
These are the tomatoes and some squash in the last remaining octagon bed
Some of the squash is starting to put out male blooms, but I haven't seen any females yet
  Over on the end, we have banana peppers and chili peppers that have started to put out some blooms

The old watermelon seed I planted at the edge of this bed has sprouted, we'll see how it holds up over the summer.

And the okra in this bed is finally starting to come up too.  I ended up replanting this because I wasn't seeing sprouts.  I think that may have been because it just wasn't warm enough to get quick germination yet, but the plants are hardier and produce better when they sprout and grow quickly.  I figured the seed I had used may have been old, but even if it was just too cold, I was better off replanting. As Doug Welsh, the ag extension guy that hosts a weekly gardening show on our NPR channel, always says, "seed is cheap!"
And here are lots of little cucumber plants.  The baby cucumber plants have been the favorite meal of the caterpillars and I got frustrated, so I just put out a whole packet of seed in this spot and figured I would thin it out later.

Over in the back of the yard, the birds are getting a lot bigger too.  The turkeys are absolutely huge compared to the chickens now!  I'd say they're at least twice the size of the chickens.  I haven't been picking them up, but Josh estimates they are about 8-10 pounds live weight.  Josh is in charge of the birds, but if I understand the timeline right, we'll be processing the turkeys sometime near the end of July. They have been a bit of a learning experience.  The last time we raised meat birds, they were a whole flock of their own and they were also chickens.  These big boys eat a lot more feed than I expected, even with being able to scavenge in the yard under their mobile coop.   They have not been as loud as I expected though, so that's a bonus.
The hens are all feathered out and getting bigger.  They probably have a couple more months before they start laying eggs.  That red lady in the front is one of the Rhode Island Reds
Here is one of the Amercaunas.  They are the ones that will lay blue/green eggs, we're all excited about that.
And these are the Barred Rocks (well, I mistakenly focused my camera on the chicken wire, but you get the idea).  I think these are the prettiest of the flock.

I knew it was gonna be a rough garden year, but man!  It's a little depressing to look around out there sometimes.  And the grasshoppers aren't even out yet, nor has the summer drought that I'm sure is coming set in.  The grasshoppers will be the biggest challenge, there's nothing to do about them except for letting the birds take care of them.  The fruit trees are happy and healthy but one of our peach trees didn't set fruit at all this year for some reason and our big plum tree didn't either.  Plums usually need another tree to cross-pollinate with.  We have a variety that will self-pollinate, but it's not ideal and hasn't worked for us.  We will need to put in another tree next fall.  One of our peach trees is doing really well though, it is so heavy with fruit we had to give it some extra supports.  The new orange and lime tree are doing really well too.

How is everyone else doing in the garden?  Are you all surviving the consequences of the mild winter??

Friday, April 27, 2012

Woah

This one time, I was famous for exactly 4 hours.

Okay, it was yesterday. And it was surreal. I wrote my post about dieting and lactation on Tuesday, hit publish, and just let it sit. I was hoping a young mom with google at her disposal would come across it when it was needed and it would save her and her baby some grief and possible harm.

In some weird convergence of internet events that I can't fully explain, this exact issue kind of blew up yesterday, only one day after I posted. And my post landed on top of the google search results heap and was found by a very heavily trafficked blog. The moderator asked me if she could link to my post and I thanked her for asking and said that she could.

And then things went crazy.

This is a small blog. There aren't that many of you that read every day. Suddenly I had more hits in an hour than I sometimes get in an entire week. A WEEK y'all. Sierra had a late softball game last night, so I stayed home to put the little girls to bed and Josh took her to the game. He came home and asked what I'd been up to and all I could offer was a dumbstruck, "watching stat counter".

Then I made my husband sit down with me and look at the graph of all the hits my little post had received. I was like a 6 year old showing off a school project. Bless his heart, he not only looked, he asked to see the map view too.

4 hours after it started, it started to dwindle away again. But it was kinda fun while it lasted and I think I can rest assured at least some breastfeeding moms got the information they need. I need to check in on the revenue report for my ads, but I think I might just make minimum wage for the time I spent writing that post.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Dieting While Breastfeeding

There happens to be a popular mommy blogger currently promoting a dietary supplement company called Xyngular. In the interest of full disclosure, these are not products I would ever endorse or recommend to anyone. But specifically, I'm very bothered by her refusal to tell her followers point blank that it should not be taken by nursing mothers.

How do I know this? I'm an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). My area of expertise is breastfeeding and I spent years studying everything related to human lactation before sitting for (and passing with flying colors) my certification exam five years ago.

I found this information on Xyng's website about the xyng pills:
Now, as a lactation consultant, I often deal with situations where medications are labeled "if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, consult a doctor before use".   Those are often (not always, but often) CYA statements simply meaning there isn't yet specific research proving whether that particular medication is harmful or not. Many, many, many medications are okay for use by breastfeeding moms. However, an unequivocal "Not for use" is usually a hint that the manufacturer knows the medication is truly not okay for use during breastfeeding.

So let's take a look at the ingredient list for the xyng pills to find out why this might be the case:
Setting aside the proprietary blend, which may have problems of its own, there are 90mg of caffeine in one pill.  That's about the same as a cup of coffee.  And the directions suggest up to two per day, so you're up to 180mg of caffeine from that alone. EDIT: A reader requested I look into the 1,3-dimethylpentylamine that is present in the proprietary blend of this product. I am currently using the 2008 edition of Medications and Mother's Milk and did not find information on this in there (update again: I now have the latest, 2012, edition and it's not in there either). I turned to the internet and looked up general information on 1,3-dimethylpentylamine. What I found on WebMD would be enough for me to suggest a nursing mother not take this drug. To begin with, it has been added to the prohibited substances list of the World Anti-Doping Agency. It has also been removed from military stores due to reports of life-threatening side effects. Reading further, I found it has stimulant effects similar to pseudoephedrine. Two big red flags here. First, more stimulants. Second, pseudoephedrine is generally not acceptable for use by most breastfeeding mothers. It carries a very serious risk of drastically reducing milk supply, sometimes with as little as one dose. I would be very concerned that 1,3-dimethylpentylamine might also reduce milk supply. Thank you for pointing this out to me so I could do a more thorough explanation.

Then there are their core 4 products: Accelerate, Flush, Lean and Cheat.

Again, from their website, the Accelerate label:
We can't see specific amounts here, but guarana extract and kola nut extract both contain caffeine, oolong tea generally contains caffeine and green tea extract may or may not have caffeine. Judging by the name and the ingredients, it's a fairly safe assumption that there is quite a bit of caffeine in this product. Once again, we're seeing a suggestion to take up to two pills a day.  Does this add up to another two cups of coffee? It's impossible to know for sure. You'll notice this product also says that it is not to be used by nursing women. Also, like the xyng, it has chromium picolinate, which is often touted as a weight loss product, but doesn't actually have adequate supportive evidence that it's effective.

Here's the label for Flush:
These are mostly herbal laxatives that aren't really a big problem in and of themselves, but I wouldn't recommend a nursing mother take laxatives on a regular basis because I would be concerned about her nutrient absorption and dehydration. And once again, we see the direction not to take it if you are nursing.

Cheat's main ingredient is Konnyaku (or Konjac) root, which I'm having difficulty finding specific information on related to breastfeeding, but the company states that it eliminates 25% of the calories you've eaten and that's unlikely to be wise for breastfeeding mothers (see below). As with the other products, this one specifically says it it not to be used by breastfeeding women.

Lean is the only product in the lineup I don't have a specific concern about. It's a protein drink and while I'd prefer my clients to eat whole foods, there is nothing here that specifically stands out as a big red flag for me. This is also the only main product that doesn't specifically carry that "not for use if you are pregnant or nursing" warning, which reinforces the idea that the warning is there for a reason on the other products.

The other product they produce is Super Fruit Global Blend. This product has an 18 page information sheet with all the ingredients and honestly, they mostly seem harmless. However, once again, green tea shows up, which likely means even more caffeine.

If it's not clear already, my main concern with the products themselves is the amount of caffeine.  Caffeine does transfer into breastmilk.  The quantities are relatively small, but babies (especially young babies) take much longer to clear what caffeine they get out of their system.  According to Medications and Mother's Milk (our main resource for information about medications as they relate to breastfeeding), the half-life of caffeine for an adult is 3-7 hours.  A half-life is the time it takes to eliminate one half of the amount out of your system.  50% is gone after one half-life, then another 25% (so 75% total) after the 2nd half-life, etc...  It takes about 5 half-lives to effectively remove a medication from your system.  This means adults take about 15-35 hours to eliminate a dose of caffeine from their system.  However, for a baby under 3 months old, the half-life of caffeine is 65-130 hours.  That means it takes them 13.5-27 days to eliminate caffeine from their system.   This usually isn't a problem in moderation, but if a mom is taking in large amounts of caffeine, we can start to see unusual fussiness and less sleeping in baby as the amount of caffeine in their system builds up.   There is also some evidence that ingestion of high levels of caffeine over a period of time may reduce the iron content of mom's milk.  If you would like more information about caffeine and breastfeeding, there is a more thorough explanation at KellyMom.com.

My other concern is calorie intake. I am having difficulty finding specific directions from the manufacturer on how to use these products, but as a general guideline, I recommend my clients not consume fewer than about 1800 calories per day. Doing so poses the risk of a reduced milk supply. This could obviously be dangerous to the baby, especially if mom is not aware her supply has been reduced and thinks she is only dealing with an irritable baby without realizing baby is irritable because s/he is hungry. In addition to this, according to Breastfeeding and Human Lactation (4th edition, Riordan, pp500):
The mother who chooses to diet while lactating should be encouraged to avoid crash or fad diets that promise marked, rapid weight loss. Fat-soluble environmental contaminants and toxins stored in body fat are released into the milk in larger quantities when caloric intake is severely restricted.
As the manufacturer repeatedly states, the Xyngular line of products is not appropriate for breastfeeding mothers.  Taking these products while breastfeeding poses risks that clearly outweigh the possible benefits.  If you would like to know more about safely losing weight while breastfeeding, I suggest you visit the weight loss page at KellyMom.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Bye Bye Fingernails

Remember when everyone in the family except me had hand, foot and mouth disease? I've read that you can lose your nails after a bout of HFMD. I really thought Secora was going to go through this because she had a couple of blisters form up under the edge of her toenails. But aside from being a little bit ragged, her nails held out just fine.

Then at Easter, I noticed Sedona's fingernails looked weird. I couldn't figure out what was going on. It looked like the top layer of the nail was peeling off, but it was from the bottom up and the cuticle looked fine. I did some googling and it appears THIS is what they mean by losing nails after HFMD. I never would've guessed. She's not a complainer, so it's hard to know for sure, but the only time she told me they hurt was if she hit them or something like that. I'm assuming what was painful was having such a thin, non-protective nail, not the actual peeling.

Here's what it looked like (please ignore the "been digging a hole in the backyard" dirt under the nails!)

Pretty weird, huh? It wasn't a big deal and the nails look normal, if a bit thin, now that they've finished peeling. Seems like they will be back to normal before long. So if your kid gets hand, foot and mouth disease and then their nails start looking a little funky, chances are it's nothing to worry about!


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Perfect Popcorn

Josh had to be gone during dinner and bedtime tonight, so I decided girls' night needed to be movie night. We had pizza and cookies and even a little bit of kool-aid. But movie night wouldn't be complete without popcorn.

It's been years since I briefly mentioned how we make popcorn and I figured it was high time I do a little tutorial

Start out by putting 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil and about 3 popcorn kernels in a medium pot with a lid (preferably see through, but you could stay close by and just listen too) over high heat
Wait for the kernels to pop
Add 1/3 cup of popcorn kernels and REMOVE FROM HEAT.  What? That's crazy talk!  Just remove it from heat and count to 30.  You're giving all the kernels a chance to heat up to a similar temperature. 
After you've counted to 30, return the pot to high heat.  I give it a few shakes here or there.  Stay close by and remove from heat when the popping stops.  The vast majority of the time, this method results in NO unpopped kernels and NO burned kernels.
Just fluffy, popcorny goodness
I usually dump the popcorn into a bowl and then throw a little butter in the pot while it's still warm. 
When it's melted, I pour that over the popcorn and sprinkle some salt on top.   Other times, I put the popcorn in a large bowl, sprinkle some white chocolate chips in and stir or shake until the white chocolate melts and then add a little salt.  Both ways are tasty, cheap, and not entirely unhealthy!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

When Life Isn't Quite As Hard


It's been a couple of weeks since I blogged about the anxiety I've been dealing with. And many more weeks than that since it started affecting our family.

Things are looking up these days and it seems only fair to explain why so it can maybe be helpful to someone else.

First up, the easy stuff. Even though I chose not to take meds after my very bad reaction to Zoloft, I did keep my follow up appointment with my doctor. A doctor who is a good match can be extremely helpful. My doctor was supportive of my choice to go with alternatives to medicine, but she did run quite a bit of blood work to be sure there wasn't an additional medical problem to be addressed. Turns out my vitamin D levels are really low, which is likely contributing to the problem, so she had me start taking extra D3. We also talked about the effects of PMS on anxiety levels and she recommended an herbal supplement that levels out hormones and helps with that side of things.

Mostly though, there's been a lot of not so easy stuff I've been doing.

To begin with, I read about some studies done at Duke showing that a certain amount and intensity of exercise was just as effective as zoloft. Since the zoloft wasn't working for me, and I had stopped running after the half marathon, I decided it made sense to start doing some aerobic exercise again. This was really difficult at first. When you have a full on adrenalin rush for hours at a time and you are physically ill, the very last thing you want to do is get up and jog around the block. At first, I just laid down outside for a little while some days. Many, many days it took all of my willpower to convince myself that I needed to move and that doing so would not kill me. I now carve out the time to do something every day. With the kids to take care of, a lot of times it's just playing games on our Wii Fit, but I make sure to get in several of the aerobic games every day.

I also cut out caffeine. Again. I think this is the 4th time in my life I've gone off caffeine. It started out because the zoloft made me so sick I couldn't drink coke. By the time that was over, I had already made it through the withdrawl period and figured it was probably prudent NOT to put a stimulant in my body right now. Then I started seeing my therapist and explained that to her. She looked me in the eye and said, "it's probably not a good idea for you to have caffeine. Ever." By this time she had (correctly) surmised that I'm "wound pretty tightly" and caffeine isn't going to help that at all. Don't get me wrong, I haven't cut out chocolate, I even still have sprite, but no caffeinated cokes or sweet tea (I never did drink coffee) for me since March 30.

And the therapist. I lucked out with a good recommendation from a friend and found someone I like on the first try. I've been seeing her once a week and she's really challenged me to see some things I've been working really hard at not seeing. Mostly how stressed out I am and how much I have on my plate. How exhausting and draining it really is to wake up 2-3 times a night every night for 17 months and spend the majority of the day with a child who is asking for food and turning down 90% of what you offer her. She's also validated what I've known all along....I have really lucked out in the husband department.

Lately, I am still panicking, but I can now handle it. There are three key things that have helped me "in the moment". First, I read in a neuroscience book about mindfulness training. One basic thing they described was that when anxiety hits, focus on the feeling and recognize it's there, then focus on your breathing, and remind yourself that this feeling is not over taking you and spiraling out of control. The feeling is already here and you are already handling it and you can continue to handle it. That exercise made me functional, but still reluctant to leave the house. Second, I was listening to the radio one day and heard someone relate a story where a cancer patient had told them "pain is inevitable, suffering is a choice". It's worth saying again:

Pain is inevitable, suffering is a choice.

Wow. Powerful words. At the time when I heard this, I still felt a bit like a 2 year old. I want to stomp my foot and scream at the unfairness of feeling so out of control. I didn't want to deal with this. I wanted the feeling to go away completely and life would not be right until I got my way. These simple words were something I really needed to hear and something that definitely applies to this situation. The anxiety isn't going to go away completely. I have to let go of that as my only acceptable goal. I've redirected myself to focus on not suffering from the anxiety. And that leads me to the third thing...surrender. I was coming around to this idea on my own, but the therapist really clarified it last week. For me, I relate this to childbirth (having had three of them with no pain meds). There comes a point in labor where you have to surrender and what will be, will be. It's the same sort of thing with this anxiety. You can tense up and fight it (it is the fight or flight response, after all), which takes a lot of effort and often escalates things for me, or you can ride it out. I have a little internal dialogue with myself, "yes, I have this feeling and I don't like it, but it's a false alarm and nothing is wrong and it will go away". I imagine it almost as floating on the waves in the ocean.  You can slog your way to shore, walking through sand and bracing yourself against every wave while the water sprays up around you getting up your nose and in your eyes.  Or, you can relax and let the waves carry you there.  The destination is the same, but floating along takes a lot less effort and often gets you there faster.

This is no three week fix. I know there are going to be ups and downs for a while. I've had a lifetime of anxiety building up that I never really learned to deal with effectively. This convergence of really stressful events in my life has kind of brought everything front and center and forced me to look at the problem and learn how to handle it. Truth be told, I'm glad. I never thought I would have said that a month ago, but I really am glad. Two of my children, in particular, really need to be around a good example of how to handle anxiety and this period of my life is allowing me to gather the tools to be that example for them.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Is School Over Yet?

I know we're only 2 years into this homeschooling thing, but I think we've set a precedent for spring fever. I feel about the same as I felt when I was the student, dragging myself through that last 6 weeks and just wishing it would be over already.

Last year and again this year, I held Sierra back just a bit in the beginning of the year. If she wanted to do five geography lessons (yes, it happens), I'd limit her to two. I'd limit her to one math lesson a day. I just didn't want her to fly through three years worth of school in one year.

I've decided I'm not going to limit her next year 'cause sure enough, March rolled around and we're all more interested in playing outside than doing any school work.  One of the great things about homeschooling is we have the flexibility to do that.  We've been getting some things done at night or on the weekends.  We've practiced multiplication tables while laying on the couch during little sisters' nap time.  We've rushed through some things to get to more interesting things. 

I'm glad we don't have a specific end date for school because it's beginning to look like we will keep going this way until each subject is finished up.  Some things will be done by the end of April, but others will probably continue through most of June.

The sunshine and the butterflies are just so inviting.  The garden and the sprinklers sing to us. And we have to sing back.  So next year we'll use those really cold and really hot days for staying inside and working ahead because spring is just meant to be spent outside.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

More Fun in Little League

Both of the girls had ball games tonight. They were at the same time on opposite ends of town, so we had to split up. I took Sierra and it was a fun game to watch! Both teams had a pretty slow start and seemed to be getting a bit discouraged. Sierra was up to bat in the 2nd inning:



She got a hit!
She made it safely to first base and her team perked up quite a bit at that point
Two other girls also got hits and helped Sierra make it around to home for their first run of the game.  Everyone had a bit more pep after that and they ended up winning the game.   You could tell the girls had fun at their first game (which they lost), but they definitely all had a bit more spring in their step leaving the field tonight.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Little League Days

Both of the girls are playing in the local little league this season. Sedona is in t-ball and Sierra is in "junior minor softball" (8 and unders). They have been practicing hard, three days a week usually, and yesterday was the last of the practices before games start. They generally play twice a week, so there aren't any more regular practices after this. Both of them had scrimmages last night to help them get a better idea of what to expect for their first game this weekend:

In Sedona's division, most everyone is brand new and quite little.  They don't keep score or outs, every kid takes a turn batting and running bases (they do field the ball, but they rarely get it to where it needs to be when it needs to be there) and then the teams switch sides.  They just keep that up for an hour, or until the kids mutiny, whichever comes first.

Here she is up at bat:
Making it back around to home after running the bases, complete with a congratulatory pat on the helmet from her coach
Sedona playing 2nd base.  This is very serious business, ya know
She may pick flowers or chase butterflies, but she does run for the ball when it comes near her (though I do wish she'd let me put her hair up, we're about 50/50 on that)

Sierra has always had practice at the same time, but at a different park about 2 miles away.  Her practices are longer, so there is time to go watch her when Sedona is done.  Here she is playing outfield (yes, that's outfield for 7 and 8 year olds)
Up at bat!  She's a coveted leftie
And she gets a hit!!
She made it to first base and had a grin from ear to ear.  While her teammate was up to bat, she was ready to head for second, but she kept looking back just to be sure that back foot was still solidly on base
She made it around to third and got high fives from coach (who just happens to be the man who got us our very first mortgage.  Small town!)
And coming around to home! 
She was really pumped up when she got back to the dugout. I had to leave at that point to take the little girls home for bed (Josh stayed with Sierra) and you could hear Sierra's team all the way from the parking lot (quite a ways away) cheering for their batters, "she's a home run hitter, and you're never gonna get her, so give up!!" It's safe to say they're fired up for their first real game.

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