We are still alive here. I experienced the very first sickness of the winter last week when I contracted a miserable head cold that drained me for 3 days. (Get it? Sorry, I know that is obnoxious.) I found myself dragging along in a haze of Vicks, carrying a tissue box, so far behind with normal life that writing seemed downright frivolous. In fact, I entertained discouraged thoughts of shutting down the blog entirely. Then I started to feel better and got over it.
I have noticed some milestones recently in my children’s lives. My absent minded son was on kitchen duty the week I was dragging. “Mama, what in the world are all these pills doing on the counter? You would think they have no home!” Not only did he quote my words back to me, but before that he had actually noticed some stuff that needed to be put away. I am sure I cannot really describe to you what a marvel that is to me. Until very recently, this child saw no reason why anything should have a spot. His practical idea of locating missing stuff was always traveling with a mother. I must have explained to him twenty-eleven times why he should always put his treasures away in his drawer, his boots on the rug, and his bike in the shed. So even though I felt like snot, I got a little burst of encouragement from that conversation. I think there may come a day when he might actually become neat and organized. I see some small signs and how they do cheer me!
I saw some buzz on the web for using a system of mom-bucks to reward a child’s responsible behavior and decided to give it a trial shot. Obviously, penalties involve paying back some bucks to mom. Thus fixing the bed earns a buck, but leaving the pjs on the floor costs a buck. It is impossible to redeem privileges from the mom-store if all your bucks were frittered away in penalties because you neglected to put your folded piles of laundry into the proper drawers or you quarreled with a sibling. I picked some specific behaviors to reward and zeroed in on some especially entrenched habits. There is no way I can keep up with anything complicated, but I think I can cautiously say it is helping my boys to be more heedful.
Gregory seems to have hit his stride with baking. Just a year ago I groaned (privately) when he asked to cook something. He does so dearly love to mess in the kitchen, going into a really happy place, humming, measuring with flourish, the dry ingredients puffing this way and that, the eggs unpredictably doing their oblong rolls off the counter, the whisks and scrapers all saved for licking with gusto when his project is safely baking. At first I had to watch every step of the way or he would use a tablespoon of salt instead of a teaspoon, or forget to grease his pans or use a little more sugar than the recipe called for “to make it better”. I will be honest, it was a trial. The cleanup was dreadful. We blundered along like that for a very long time until he graduated to me just carefully explaining a recipe to him, then forcing myself to let him alone, only coaching him as he came up with questions. Last month for the first time ever he made cookies all on his own steam. Even scooping out the dough. Even putting the baking sheets into the oven. Even cleanup. Whew! Then he did it again and again. We had snickerdoodles one week, chocolate chip cookies the next, and brownies the next. I can see that this could pose a problem, so we will need to work on spaghetti or omelets or chicken soup for a while. 🙂
Olivia is losing teeth with alarming rapidity this spring and now she talkth with a charming little lithp. And she can read. Just like that, she finally got over the hump of great effort in sounding out to reading for fun. I just sat and got all sentimental while she read Ten Rubber Ducks to her little sisters. Forgive me for the little rave, but it thrills me every time it happens for the first time. And every homeschool mom said Amen.
I won’t go down the whole row of children and their changes, but I should tell you that I started about 120 little plants in peat pots: tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, broccoli, etc. There they are, all plucky and greenish, straining to the sunshine. I keep them on the warm floor of the kitchen, where they may not always be safe from stomping feet, but on the sunshiny days I set them out on the deck. Today I thinned out the extras and I ate them. It was such a lovely, wheatgrassy thing to do.
I also freed the bulbs and perennials from the winter’s accumulation of blown leaves and junk, so that now they can reach for the sky. It always reminds me of Mary Lennox in The Secret Garden, setting the little plants at liberty to flourish. Strange as it may seem, I like weeding, especially my flower beds. I find it about ten times more fun than wiping the dirty handprints off the walls in the hallway. Mmmhmmm, that explains a few things.
Change. It is good. It is delightful to feel the cocoon of winter slipping into a memory. I sneeze an average of 17 times a day, so pollen is also in the air. Oh, how I do love this time of the year!