Monthly Archives: August 2012

Scientific Method

One of the things we’ve been studying this week is the Scientific Method.  We’d gone over it several times and had done 4 different experiments, and yet they were having a hard time remembering some of the key words.  So to help ourselves remember, we combined this with one of our summer list items we still haven’t finished – write & perform a play.  (What?  Summer’s not technically over for a few more weeks!)

We recorded the play and although they still say ‘hypop-es-sis’ instead of hypothesis and ‘experience’ instead of experiment, I think they really get it!  It was fun making our movie and even more fun watching it.  I hope that it’s something we’ll be able to look back on in twenty years and laugh all over again.

(I especially love Lydia’s look when Carter steals her line!  I get that look from her a lot!)

If I were a…

Every morning my children write in a journal.
I give them prompts and they have 10 minutes to write.
We don’t go back and correct anything.
There’s no editing to be done.
The misspelled words stay misspelled and the run on sentences keep running on and on and on.
Recently I was wondering if I should encourage them to self-edit.
Should I push them to correct themselves as they go along?
And I decided no.  No, I shouldn’t.  There is plenty of time to learn to self-edit.

And then even more time to unlearn how to self-edit (which is where I find myself right now).

It’s hard to just write.
It’s hard to just let the words flow without worry.
I have a nagging need to clarify, to justify my words.
I want to use my words to be understood, but if I add too many words it gets all jumbled.

“If I were a…” they began today.
And I sat and scribbled with them.
Ten minutes.
No stopping.
No erasing.
No scratch-throughs.

If I were a superhero I would see a need and fix it.  I would look for the sad, the broken and I would help.  I would, of course, be able to fly because what good is being a superhero without such a simple superpower? And I would be able to close my eyes and breathe deeply and, like a genie in a bottle, blink and nod the sad away.  Actually, if I were a superhero, I wouldn’t go and fix things.  I would go and teach the sad, the broken how to fix it.  (Which is easier said than done, isn’t it?)  (But I’m a superhero, after all, so why not?) 

And my self-editor said, “Don’t publish that.  It’s silly.”
And it is, but it’s where I am.
It’s where we are.
And I kinda-sorta like this place, silly stories and all.


Your Words

I usually write late at night after everyone is asleep.
But after a very full weekend, I collapsed into bed and watched TV with Marshall.
We went to two birthday parties this weekend, which were super fun!
One was a Christmas in August complete with stockings and lights and (paper) snowball fight!
The other was a backyard camp out with s’mores and tents and a hay ride.
I think maybe I had as much fun as the kids did!
Sunday, nestled between church and meetings, we re-watched “Despicable Me” (which, if you’ve never seen it, is pretty funny) with my parents.
I won’t lie; I caught a little snooze while we watched it.
There’s something extra special about Sunday afternoon naps.

There are times I feel quite silly for blogging.
There are times I write words like the ones above and think “who in the world cares”?
And there are times that I just write what I’m thinking and find that a lot of you are thinking it, too.
And there are times when pictures really do have more to say than words and so I share my view of our days that way.

I post here and on Instagram and Facebook and sometimes I wonder why I do it.
Part of it is that I love going back and looking at our days.
I love remembering tiny details I’d otherwise forget.
I love rediscovering emotions that were wrapped up in moments long ago.
I love looking back and seeing how some things have changed but other things never, ever change.

But lately, I started to contemplate how long I’d do this blogging thing.
I started a photo website to share pictures with our family back in 2005.
In 2007, it morphed into a blog called QueenOfHaddock.
And in 2008 I changed everything over to The Ivey League moniker.
And in 2010, I finally moved over to my own domain.
I love this little space, even if it does need a makeover!
I love this space because it’s a place where I can write and I can think and I can process.
But I also love this space because it has connected me with so many of you!
And it seems that whenever I think about closing up shop around here, like I did this summer,
I get an influx of kind words from you!
You are such wonderful encouragers!
When I am down, you lift me up with your words and prayers.
When I need help, you ask what you can do.
When I need guidance, you offer advice.
When I just need to know that I’m not alone in this journey, there you are.
And I really, really appreciate it.
More than you’ll ever know.
Thank you.
Thank you so much for your words.

Up and Down and All Around

I never knew it was possible for my emotions to be as wild as they have been the past few weeks.
I am so incredibly happy to have the children home with me and we are having a blast.
And, for the most part, we are floating along just fine.  I am learning as much as they are (probably more).
Our schedule is pretty flexible, but I am a list-making rule-follower and I like for everything to be just so.
I like to know what’s coming next and I don’t like it when the the schedule gets turned up-side down.
But in a house with 4 small children, schedules are bound to not only get turned up-side down, but to stay up-side down.
And so I am learning to let some things slide.  And to know which things are okay to let slide.  (That’s the hardest part!)
It’s hard for me to balance work time versus play time.
I have a tendency to want to push on through and play later, and I have to remind myself that they aren’t made for that.
They need time to just play.
They need time to read for fun.
They need time to (gasp!) get bored.
I’m having to set aside my go-go-go and embrace “Be still…”
Y’all?  That’s hard stuff.

The other hard thing is the little people.
I can honestly say that sometimes we follow the schedule to a tee and no one screams or cries or fusses, but that’s not often.
There are moments when the little one shrieks at her big brother while I’m giving a spelling test.
Or I hear “I missed the potty” while I’m in the middle of a science lesson.
Again: hard stuff.
But ultimately I’m grateful that my hard stuff isn’t really all that hard.

And I’ll be honest with you:  It isn’t as hard as I expected it would be.
I expected a lot of things, most of which haven’t come to fruition. (Yet).
I expected that we’d try this and all hate it.
I expected that we’d try it and I’d get frustrated or they’d miss regular school or it just wouldn’t work.
I expected more crying, more whining, more nagging.
And (so far) I just haven’t seen those things.
(Ask me again in two months and see if I’m singing a different tune).

Is our homeschool situation going to be long term?  Probably not.
Is it always going to fit our needs?  I imagine it won’t.
But I’ve been wrong before.
And so my answer is maybe.
We’re doing this now and it is a good thing.
And we’ll keep doing it until it isn’t.
Who knows when that will be…

The List

My name is Bridget and I am a list maker.
I love thinking about what I need to do and which order is most efficient.
I love looking it over and knowing what comes next.
I love the moment when I can swish a big, dark line through each of my To Dos.
I really love lists.
And it would seem I have passed this trait on to at least one child.
As we were walking into church last night I noticed that Lydia had a notecard and pencil in her hand.

Hey!  What’s that in your hand?
My card.
Your card for what?
My words.
What words?
Just all the things I’m good at.

Art.  Songs.  Write.
Read.  Hide.  Draw.  Live.
Sleep.  Play.  Love.  Ride.  Learn.
Looking.  Nose Wiggling.  Swimming.
Joke Telling.  Coloring.  Baby playing.
Eating.  Laughing.)

I absolutely adore this list.
Here’s my girl – my so-often quiet and shy girl – taking pride in her strengths.

At first I giggled that eating, sleeping, and living were listed as things she is good at.
But then I thought about my friends who struggle with anorexia or insomnia or depression,
and suddenly eating, sleeping, and living didn’t seem like such silly things to include.
Even these are things to be proud of, to celebrate.

As the evening wound down, I sat and thought about her list.
Then I decided to make a list of my own.
I started with those three things: Eating.  Sleeping.  Living.
But then I got stuck.
As a grown-up, it’s hard to list your strengths.
(I’ve always hated that question in interviews.)
But she did it so easily.
Even after I took this picture, she added more.
Her paper is filled to the max.

So I pushed on.
One word at a time.
(I had to steal those two from her!)
Taking pictures.
Meal planning.
Simple sewing.
Kissing uh-ohs.
Reading aloud.

As I wrote my list, I struggled a few times.
What if someone reads it and rolls their eyes?
What if they laugh at me because I think I’m good at ___ but they know that I’m not?
What if ??  What if ??  What if ??
But what if I stopped worrying about it and just embraced my list like a 6 year old girl?
What if I wrote down my words and kept them with me and looked at them when I needed them?
What if I saved her card and gave it to her when she needed it most?
What if ??  What if ??  What if ??


What if you made a list?
What words would you include?




If you don’t give a little, you’ll pop.

A New Normal

I’ve had lots of people ask how home(virtual)school is going, and I’ve had a few ask about the details of our days.  If you’re one of the former, the answer is GREAT!  We love it!  If you’re one of the latter, read on.

Last week I took it one day at a time.  For the first week of school, that was perfect as we were all getting acclimated to the system.  I did, however, spend quite a bit of time each night preparing for the next day.  Now that I know a little more about the system and know what to anticipate here schedule-wise, I decided to sit down Sunday night and prep their folders for the week instead of doing it daily.

We start our morning together at 7:15ish.  While we are eating breakfast, we talk about our weekly bible verse.

By 8AM everyone is fed, clean, and (mostly) dressed.  (Unsurprisingly for our house, pants are optional.)
While I finish getting the littles all ready for the day, the bigs write in their journals for 10 minutes.
(One child’s writing style is very Bridget-esque.  One is very Marshall-ly.)

Once they are dressed, the little two get special “school toys” that I have locked in a closet.
They only get these toys while we are working in the other room, and only if they stay in Alden’s room.
Sometimes Alden just wants to be with us, and as long as she’s not distracting we don’t mind.


Carter gets started on written work while Lydia does work online or with me.
Then we trade.   Then we trade again.  And then we trade again.
(Lather.  Rinse.  Repeat.)

In the morning we cover English-Language Arts and Math.
Periodically someone finishes before I’m ready to start with them and they get a break to go play with the littles.

By around 11:00-11:30, we’ve finished most of our morning work.
If it’s not raining, they can go out to play while I work on getting lunch ready.
(Last week we had a lunch date one day and a picnic on another day!)

After lunch, Alden goes down for a nap and Asa gets iPad time.
We do one or two lessons in either Science, History, or Social Studies.
Because they are only one year apart, there is a lot of overlap in the lessons so I teach them at the same time.

We also throw in ‘extra’ classes such as art, health, PE, music, and such.
Most of those were things we were doing anyway.
(We’re going to the dentist today, so that’ll count towards our Health requirement!)

We do have access to teachers if we get in a bind or I feel like we’re struggling (and I know those moments will come)!
They each have teachers who have regular classroom times where we can log on and connect with her virtually.
If we are logged in while the class is in session, they can interact with the teacher and other students.
If we don’t make it to the class and then realize we need to see it, we can watch the recorded sessions.

If you’re interested in this model of education or just want to know more, you can visit the Georgia Cyber Academy online.


Pull and Push

As I swung my head around, I saw him pull his little brother to the ground.
We locked eyes and he knew it wasn’t going to end well.
But I didn’t yell.
I sent Asa away and spoke gently to him across the room.
They had been fighting over a Lightning McQueen plush toy that he’s had for years.
One that he only plays with when someone else is interested in it.
My “What were you doing?” got only the response of a blank stare.
“You can’t just pull him down.  That hurts.”
“But I wan–”
“I think it’s time to let Asa have it.  You’ve had it a long time and he loves Cars now.”
His eyes just barely begin to well up and blink.blink.blink. three times hard.
“Do you understand me?”
“Yes, ma’am,” he says and blinks a triplet again.
We stare at each other – him trying not to cry, me trying not to let my heart break.
Am I pushing him to grow up?
Maybe a bit.
But we all need a good push every now and then, right?
Even in the moments when I feel like I’m on the right path, I question.
I want to say more, but I’m not sure where to go.
There is really nothing to be said.
The silence fills us both and it pushes a tear right down his cheek.
He rushes to me and collapses into my lap, too big to fit comfortably.
I hold him and drink in his smell, his feel, his everything.
And I hold my tongue.
Tiny beads of sadness glisten on the tips of his eyelashes.
Mothering is hard, I whisper to myself.
But Growing is hard, too.
Cut him some slack, Mama.
He most certainly does it for you.

Home Work

I looked them both in the eyes as we studied, and I realized just how little I actually look at them carefully, intentionally.
I tend see them all collectively, which isn’t fair to any of us.
Each so unique and special, I love their personalities.
He can talk non-stop about black holes or cuttlefish or light sabers.
She sits and pours every ounce of attention on the story in her chapter book.
The little two are just as special – with those big eyes and bigger smiles.
If I close my eyes, I can see the outlines of each little face…but not their eyes.
Sad that I’ve gone so long without paying attention.
Grateful that I realized it now.
My first homework assignment is to look in their eyes, to listen and to really hear.

We start the morning with scripture and breakfast.
Copycatting phrase after phrase, rote memorization.

Even after only a few days, they know it well.
I pray they always will.
(I’ve promised that they can pick next week’s verse.)

Our day starts chugging gently like a train until we are full-steam ahead.
The little two mostly play while we bounce back and forth from lesson to lesson.
Alden likes to sit in Lydi’s lap while we read, and so we all three cuddle during school.
It seems so natural, and yet it is a novelty to us.

Carter prefers working at his desk.
I give him a checklist every morning and he checks it off methodically.
Lydia loses hers a few times every day.
They are us, I tell Marshall.
I knew it would be hard, I tell him, but it wasn’t as hard as I expected.
I knew it would be trying at times, but we haven’t had any major meltdowns.  (yet.)
And then contentedly I say:  I knew it would be wonderful, but I had no idea how much it would flood my heart with happy.

Good night, my angel…

She fell asleep with her hand on my head.
Her rhythmic breaths make my eye lids droop.

Eyes closed, I see her dreams from the outside in.
She smiles and I am grateful that they are sweet.

I don’t want to go to sleep because sleep signals the day’s end.
And days like this should never end.