Monday, March 31, 2014

Sunday School

Claude and I are teaching the preschool Sunday School class this term.  It's been fun getting to know the children that come on a regular basis, and especially entertaining to hear what they choose to divulge during our hour-long class period.

Here are some snippets from yesterday...

Child A to Child B: My mom's birthday is soon.  She'll be 31.
Child B: Well, my mom is already 32!
Child C: Yeah, my mom is like 50 or something!

Rachel joined us for the class and got some attention from the girls.  When she started crying here is what one child had to say about her:
"She's loud, but my brother is louder.  He cries so loud that the whole neighborhood can hear him!"

Child A: My brother is from Colorado.
Child B: Well, I'm from New York.
Child C: I think I'm from England.
Teacher: Really, are you sure you're from England?
Child C: Yes, I'm pretty sure.
Teacher: Hmmm...I think I've heard the story of when you were born and I think you were born around here.
Child C, no insistent: No.  I'm from England.

Child A to Teacher: My mom can't even read.
Teacher: Really?  Are you sure about that?
Child A: Yeah.  She can't read at all.  Whenever she writes something my dad has to tell her how to spell the words.
Teacher: Well, spelling is a bit different than reading.

Child D talking to Claude: What's that black thing in your nose?
Claude: That is a nose hair.
Child D: Oh...
Claude: You probably have nose hairs in your nose, too.  You just can't see them.
Child D, after a moment of contemplation: No.  I only have boogers in my nose!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Papa Josh's Pizza

Over the last month and a half, Joshua has been learning how to make pizza dough.  After a couple of weeks under my direction, he had the chance to fly solo.  I was a little nervous, but since I had to be in a different part of the house it was the perfect time for him to put his skills to the test.

He did an excellent job!

Because of his success, we joke that he should be called "Papa Josh".  :)  He's not keen on the idea of nicknames, but last Friday while enjoying a slice of pizza I heard him laugh as he called himself by this name.

Here's how he does it:


  1. Measure 2 cups of very warm water into the mixing bowl.
  2. Add:   2 TB yeast
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt
4 TB vegetable oil
  1. Mix in big mixer until foamy.
  2. Turn off mixer and add:
2 cups whole wheat flour
                   3 cups white flour
                   6 tsp vital wheat gluten
  1. Mix in mixer until it sticks together.
  2. Change to the bread dough hook.  Add flour slowly until the dough does not stick to the bowl.
  3. Let mixer knead dough for 5 minutes.  Check on it so it is not sticking.  Add a little bit of flour as needed.
  4. Turn off the mixer.  Take out the kneading hook.
  5. Cover bowl with clean cloth napkin or towel.  Let it rise for 1 hour.
  1. Divide dough into two equal parts.  Roll out each one to fit baking pan.
  2. Put butter on the baking trays.  Put rolled dough onto trays.
  3. Add sauces, seasonings, cheese, and toppings.
  4. Let rise for 30-60 minutes.
  5. Bake pizzas at 400˚F for 15-20 minutes until crust is golden and cheese is melted.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

School (In Case You Thought We Had it All Together)

The past week or so I noticed an interesting and promising trend - math facts were taking less and less time each day.  When I timed one of the kids to check on their progress, I discovered that this particular child was finished with a stack of 100 flashcards in 2 minutes.  Hmmm...somehow that didn't add up.

When I asked this child to go through the stack with me just to make sure the truth was being told, a massive tantrum ensued.  And the truth was out.  The flashcards were not being done in their entirity every day.  Instead, one child was doing the first few cards of each stack, pretending to finish them, and then putting them neatly back on the shelf.  The other child has been missing the flashcards on some days (which I knew) because the other work was taking FOREVER to accomplish.

I don't mind if the progress is slow.  I don't really mind how many math facts the kids have memorized at this point.  What I do mind is hiding the truth and acting like they had done all of their assignments when they simply had not.

So, the math Nazi came out, sat each child in a chair, and started the timer.  One kiddo, who was literally kicking and screaming through a subtraction set, took a whopping 32 minutes to finish a stack of 100 flashcards.  This child made considerable improvement with the addition cards as the tantrum had ended and things could move forward at a more reasonable pace - about 13 minutes for the stack.

The other child did better attitude-wise, and although the time wasn't really fast, the facts were correct and overall I am pleased with where this kid is at in the math world.

All of this took about an hour to work through - discovery of the deceipt, forcing of the flaschards, and plodding through the pack.  In that time I saw Abby and Jeremiah waltz through the front rooms in about five different hats, pairs of shoes, and other paraphernalia.  The toy area is a disaster and there are things scattered all over the floor throught the house.  We missed Rachel's nursing session, Abby's preschool, and Jeremiah's coloring time.

And when we were finally wrapping up, I overheard Abby and Jer alternately calling out numbers from the school room.

Apparently they enjoy doing flashcards.

May it always be so!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Crazy Days

We've made it through a rough couple of weeks.  Somewhere along the line our system (schedule, school, chores, etc) stopped working.  Aspects of it were fine, but much of it had unravelled leaving me feeling stressed like I was the only barista making hundreds of drinks for fussy, demanding customers who were running late for the train.  And the stress didn't stop after the morning rush.  It lasted all day long.

With some prayer, practical insight, and schedule tweaking I think we've worked our way into something that will accommadate our family in this new stage of life.

I have several thoughts about the process.  I'm in the midst of learning a great balancing act: proactively managing what goes on in the household while letting go of the desire to control exactly how things happen and when.

It's tough.

As I've been evaluating what is happening with the kids (or not happening, as the case may be), several areas of weakness have made themselves known.  Much of what needs improvement revolves around character and behavior training for the kids (and me, too!).

But I've also become aware of areas of strength.  As Joshua finished up a batch of pizza dough which he made entirely on his own, and the girls went above and beyond their assigned Friday chores to clean cabinets, doors, and tables, I realized that although the past few weeks have been stressful to the point of being in tears, we have really come a long way from just a year ago.

Those successes, combined with some encouragement from other parents who have made it through the little years with lots of littles, leave me feeling hopeful that these crazy days are really just a stage.  A stage that I am starting to truly enjoy, despite the challenges and intense demands on mine and Claude's time and attention.

And just before I finish, here is a juxtaposition (wow...that word makes me feel like I'm back in Dr. Demars' music theory class...) of strength and weakness.

At 3 1/2 she may not be fully potty trained, but she is certainly learning some geography!

To view the video please use the password: 2005ChewCrew

Abby recites countries and capitals of South America from Chew Crew on Vimeo.