Friday, March 30, 2007


You can get these doll things to look an awfully lot like your real kids are getting a real kick out of these too.

ETA - here they are!



Naomi (Becca had a lot to do with this one):


As if to prove that:

1) It is indeed spring, and
2) I am indeed on break

We've done too many things to blog about in the last several days. Had ~l~'s family over (adventures), had BIL over for dinner, had a bonfire, had GirlieG sleep over (more adventures), put down more patio bricks, had another nine-kid meetup over at MD's place, went to the History Museum (Free every Thursday 5-8pm!). Somewhere in there the kids played outside enough to need several baths a day and go through too much clothing. Busy, busy, busy.

Somewhere in all this I made a decision I've been sitting on for quite a while and pulled Girliness out of K12/WAVA. The letter I wrote to her teacher really sums it up pretty nicely, so I'm not going to rewrite it is:

I thought I'd give you a heads-up that you will not be receiving work samples from us. We are withdrawing from WAVA. We have found it a poor fit for Becca's learning style. We've found that she goes on a fit of learning in a single subject and that the WAVA curriculum slows that learning down - and that when she is unprepared to learn a particular thing she simply does not, creating a battle. She is currently reading Level 2 books, but according to the WAVA benchmarks isn't reading at all. This is not as simple a problem as it sounds...we chose to forego traditional schooling to avoid this type of busy work, only to find ourselves in a situation in which I would be testing her for the next year and a half on things that I know that she knows. Meanwhile, she is finding and naming insects, using a field guide to identify plants, and learning about monocots and dicots...and going nowhere in the WAVA science curriculum.

In short, K12 is at odds with the way she would learn in a natural non-forced way. Since the natural way that she learns is both faster and easier than forcing a curriculum on her, we've elected to stop the struggle and lay aside the artificial structure.

You have been an excellent teacher and we appreciate that. There is nothing artificial in the above statements about why we are leaving. The administration and you, our teacher, have been wonderful and non-adversarial despite our failure to "fit in" from the beginning.

So now we are afloat in a complete lack of curriculum. Not that I care. We were paring down the K12 curriculum a ton and STILL felt like we were just going through the motions, the real learning happening elsewhere. I do believe that now that Becca has officially shaken off the public school mentality (as of a month or so ago), we're ready to dive into unschooling headfirst. I already know that we'll come out on top, because Becca has rapidly picked up better and better reading and writing skills without any coaching at all from me (aside from the occassional "I can't read this word mama, o-u-t-s-i-d-e" "what does o-u-t spell?" "out...OH, outside!"). So...woohooooo off we go.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

New and Variations on that Theme

There it is! The new piano! Thanks almost-all to my FIL, who thought it important enough to send us some money.

So off we went to The Guitar Center, where we took entirely too long picking it out and haggling over various things. The stand in the ad (supposedly free) wasn't available, so would you take a collapsible one instead? Errr, not really no? At the last minute they found one. Purchased the piano. Left.

Later that evening, I got almost all the way through assembling it (seriously, I was at "screw in the four fasteners, done!") before coming up against a "what screw hole" problem and realizing that this stand didn't fit this keyboard. I was all ready to go into a bit of a fit, but Fran said "can't we just modify it?" and ran out to the shed, grabbed a plank, cut it to size, and brought it triumphantly into the house. A bit of sandpaper and a few screws later, and we wind up with something that I think is actually BETTER than the original intended stand.

Meanwhile, I move the wall-mounted shelves up a few inches because they would have been in the way of the music prop.

We get everything together and in place before realizing - oh shit - that couple inches wasn't going to do it. I'd forgotten somehow that I didn't just need enough space for the stand itself, but also for the music that would go on it. I was out of drywall screws. The shelves are going to remain too close for a while, I think. This job is a royal PITA.

Yesterday we spent some time outside the house; I have laid approximately 20 more square feet of patio bricking. I gave up on "perfect" and am now aiming for "workable." Because it was just never going to get done on "perfect" mode.

I have the kids outside right now trying to collect small rocks to lay around the grill Fran made out of old cinder blocks (because it is ugly and the grass growing up around it is even uglier). I'll be going out in a minute here to lay more bricks. I planned to go out today, to grab some groceries and deposit some checks and take the kids to the library, but it is looking sunny and the kids are having fun. Who knows.

We've eaten dinner after 8 and slept after 10 for the past 5 nights. This heralds the awkward transition into summertime in this climate, I recognize it now. This failure to recognize that the day is closing until it actually gets dark, at which point an actual meal is out of the question and I'm fishing frozen spaghetti sauce from the back of the freezer while the kids shower mud from their tired bodies and check themselves for new cuts and scrapes...this is what spring looks like in the Pacific Northwest. In our home, in what little space we have, we made room for some plants - they are coming up now, little bits of life flourishing on the tabletop in the egg cartons, tomatoes and pumpkin and watermellon and canteloupe. Toddlerness picked some of the canteloupe seedlings, but luckily enough that was the plant that was coming up heartiest, so it was just a little lesson in how roots grow.

And to backtrack a bit, Girliness hadn't been at a sleepover without me for a long, long time when we decided she could stay at ~l~'s house on Friday night. I got "that" call with my softly crying child a bit after 10. Poor thing. She stayed the night and has decided that she had fun, though, and would do it again and be less scared if she could. It isn't like this is her first sleepover ever, and I'm not sure what her particular problem is. Goodness, she loves ~l~'s house! Out of practice I suppose.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Up Late For No Reason

Why, why, WHY?

I'm done with finals, been done since Thursday.

My kitchen is clean.

There is no work to do.

Haven't had any caffeine this afternoon. Yesterday afternoon, whatever.

It isn't the result of some fit of married-emotion-gone-wrong apoplexy.

And yet, here I am.

I have this vague sense of anxiety, this vague uneasiness. I feel like I've forgotten something, like at any moment my world is going to come crashing down around me and it will be all my fault. Like those forgotten homework assignments a few weeks back - I'll be happily noodling about la-dee-da and all of a sudden BAM! something will hit me and it will be irreversible, and I'll have screwed up EVERYTHING. Or as EVERYTHING as there can be, anyway, when you're living in 500sq feet and paying off a car that is older than your children.

Fran asked me, as we drove along with dozing children in the back of our dirty-plum-colored (and already mentioned above) minivan, what he could do to help me, what TANGIBLE thing he could do. And I couldn't answer him - not really, anyway. "My worries are more vague. We don't have enough money, I don't have enough time. I don't know what to ask you for. You wash dishes, you come home every night and you love on the kids. I just don't know." But he says he feels like he doesn't do enough, like I'm shouldering everything AND trying to squeeze my own dream in there somewhere. Which sometimes seems true, and sometimes doesn't. The fact is that I've got him and that is important. Yes, even if I sit around with my girlfriends and complain that he calls to often and talks about things that are too inconsequential - oh, that must be so much better than the reverse, right?

The feeling of general anxiety that I find on my shoulders now isn't entirely new - it's been something that has hit me, always for no discernable reason, a couple of times a year - just for a day and it's gone. What IS new is the fact that here I am, awake, typing on the computer. In the past I've been too sleep deprived (slept in until 10:30 this morning!) to let this get to me, and have managed to fall asleep right on cue with the kids and let the feelings dissappear along with sleep, the tendrils of unease gradually loosening and eventually drifting off entirely, gone by morning.

The frightening thing is that a few days ago I was walking around in my kitchen and feeling something familiar - something that felt an awful lot like what had rattled around in my head and in my aura (for lack of a better way to state it) during my bout with postpartum depression after the birth of my first. I wanted to say that it was different entirely, but I had caught the edges of it before. Perhaps the best thing that can be said is that having been in PPD and come through it, I can feel the edges of depression now and know them for what they are. I've palpated the mass of this feeling, finding where it blends seemlessly with sleep deprivation here, sticks out sorely from physical cause there, hides itself neatly where I'm scared to poke too hard elsehwere. And I felt its insidious aura, hanging about my core, standing in the kitchen that day. Not like I'd felt it many times this past month or so, as if it was simply present in some peripheral portion of my existance - maybe brushed over too many times by memory and thought about too often lately? - but like it had crept into the same room I was standing in and I could suddenly simply SENSE it there without ever actually seeing or feeling or hearing it slip in.

All this I have been wanting off my chest for a bit now, but sitting here at 2:30am and counting, it suddenly seems more important than the million other things I could write about the last two days (at least three of them interesting enough to rank whole entries of their own if I was in the mood). I do know this - lest anyone actually worry about me - I'll be fine, and I'm not just saying that. My thoughts dull; tiredness is finally creeping up on me, and I wonder if the simple act of getting this down has been enough to proffer relief. A green card into good mental health. Having taken words to my worries, they suddenly don't seem so large..although I'm sure I've managed to go and send at least a couple of you, oh reader-friends, into varying levels of "oh shit Niki is losing it"ness - like I've written some sort of an open letter to everyone "let me know if I start acting like I've disconnected from reality," all blaze and shit like I'm crying for help. Which really, I'm not. I'm looking for something a little more like catharsis, here in the wee hours of the morning, my family rapidly racking up sleep hours that I'm missing; looking for a bit of catharsis, a kind of healthier anesthesia for my nerves.

I'm debating whether or not to post this right now, because it seems pathetic, like I'm splaying open some untoward portion of my emotional innards, the psychological equivalent of plumbers butt - do you really post that on your blog? But for some reason, I feel like the cleansing will be more complete if it is really *out there." Like an advertisment for some sort of sequel to the other bits of ugliness that everyone already knows about me: "Niki - You've Seen the Petty Flaws, Come See the BIG Problem!"

Well, there it is. Niki's Big Problem. As plain as Plumber's Butt, out there in the open.