Tuesday, May 3, 2016

I think Bill Waterson wants me to Homeschool

Reading books as a child (and an adult), I almost always connected to the protagonist very personally. I am Bilbo. I am Robin Hood. I am Harry Potter!
I was also Calvin. Not Hobbes, not Suzie and certainly not Mom. (I am that mom now, I know that. We are amazingly similar in our parenting).

I hated school, I loved both snow and summer, I had (ahem, past-tense, guys) delusions of my own amazing importance. I wanted to stay snuggled up at home when it rained, hated the school bus, detested being forced to go fishing with my dad, was a very picky eater that mimed vomiting at the dinner table, and -quite often- tended to live in an imaginary world.
And I have inherited some of those children myself. (As I recently told my mom, Micah is my comeuppance- Grey, however, is much more like Hobbes: chill, reasonable, appreciative of pretty girls, yet still ready to run, tackle, invent and explore for 20 hours a day).
Yesterday as I mindlessly stirred a delicious bubbling strawberry rhubarb sauce, I thumbed through It's a Magical World.
These two comics were placed one over another, and reading them I felt such a surge of surety. I want to homeschool!

The average elementary school student spends almost a thousand hours a year in school! I honestly would send my kids to school, if it were only about half the time - I wouldn't even mind some homework if that were the case.
But as it is, I don't want my little boys cooped up inside for 7 hours a day. (In addition, of course, to being cooped up with their family for meals, sleeping, and the dreaded homework and worksheets that inevitably accompany school.) When do they get to disappear into the jungles of the backyard or hide away with a book that isn't "an assignment"? They need more time to be free!

As I continued to read through my Calvin and Hobbes books, I found dozens more comic strips that made me feel very validated and justified in homeschooling. And since I look for validation in comic strips from the 80s, this is reassuring. I wanted to share a few of my favorites, because everybody loves comics!
Obviously, these are all fairly snarky and exaggerated, but I feel like they make points that are still worth considering. Like this one:

I feel like this is the sort of legitimate question that my kids ask all the time, and it's nice for them to be home with me where I can answer! And when they ask a question thats outside of the "current subject matter" we can delve into it anyway.

And with a classroom full of kids at different points (and, let's say, with different energy levels and attention spans) - it's hard to help everybody love and want to learn - especially cooped up all day mindlessly zoning out (as I spent most of school). 

I feel like Waterson made his feelings about school fairly clear: it sucks away our desire to actually learn things and be curious about the world.
As Calvin wisely said, "It's a magical world, Hobbes ol' buddy... Let's go exploring!"

And obviously, I certainly don't think that my family is better or more correct than anyone else.  There are so many amazing schools out there, and my kids would honestly probably be fine in a classroom- but lately I just feel like I want my kids to get a chance to really be little boys for a while, and the friends that we have whose kids are only in kindergarten have so much homework and stress already!
I'm just not ready. So for a while, we are going to boycott school and celebrate books, mountains, imagination, and being messy and creative little boys.


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Bell Canyon Hike

Last weekend, Travis and I took the boys on a hike together.
I usually take the boys hiking by myself at least once during the week, more often than that during the summer. So having an extra adult with me felt like such a treat! I was able to focus a lot on hiking and taking pictures and running ahead with the big boys (they're currently OBSESSED with trail running), while Travis hiked with and focused on the littlest man-child.
Turns out, when I have another helper to keep everyone happy- the boys are more than willing to hike for five miles or more without whining, while I can usually only get them through three or maybe four by myself.
This was a beautiful hike! I love spending time with with my little family in the mountains- especially when the result of such hikes is that everyone is tired enough to take naps when we get home!

We hiked on an overcast and chilly day, but the mountains were so pretty wreathed in mist that it was totally worth it! And the river (which is usually dry, or almost-so) was rushing and full. We had so much fun just climbing and exploring the river.

I love the above picture so much. The boys and I climbed over rocks to check out the river a little further upstream. I finally settled on a rock while Grey and Micah climbed and explored around me. Grey scrambled over the rocks and gave me a huge hug before disappearing again into the brush. I'm so happy Travis captured it!

 Snatched Grey mid-sentence describing what deer tracks look like. We saw a lot of tracks, but we are SIGNIFICANTLY too noisy to ever see any actual animals in nature!

 August loves his dad, and he loves hiking! As long as he had a steady hand to hold on to when he scrambled up and down rocks, he was happy to hike the whole way up and down by himself!
It helps when he gets lots of breaks to throw rocks into water.

I Love these boys and they love hiking!


Thursday, April 21, 2016

Miscellaneous Blossoms

Dear Friend, I like to start my notes to you as if we're already in the middle of a conversation. I pretend that we're the oldest and dearest friends -- as opposed to what we actually are, people who don't know each other's names and met in an "Over 30" chat room where we both claimed we'd never been before.  

That's how I feel about this blog sometimes, guys. Except that I'm not secretly in love with you.
Instead, I find myself holding pretend conversations with my probably-non-existent blog readers. (Except for you, Grandma! Hiiii! Thanks for sticking around!)

You: Why Becky, aren't those the exact same blossoms that you posted pictures of LAST April? And every April?
Me: No, these are beautiful new blossoms that look exactly like the other blossoms, but which I love anyway. I can never take enough pictures of blossoms!
You: Just like you can never take enough pictures of baby feet, your fresh eggs, and snow-covered tree branches.
Me (getting defensive): I like those things, okay? I like them A LOT.

And I do.
When we moved into this house at the end of last year, I found a squat and stupid tree in the yard that I immediately hated.
What is the point of trees if
1. They don't bear fruit?
2. They are not lilacs?
3. You can't build a tree house in them?

Since we have some extremely good tree-house-trees already, I was determined to pull the short tree out and replace it, either with a fruit tree or a lilac bush.
But first, I took a picture of it and brought it to a nursery.

The man at the nursery didn't know what it was, either. But he pointed out some little nubs around the leaves, and said "This is stone fruit tree. Maybe a cherry or a plum?"

Well, I wouldn't have planted a cherry or a plum tree- (I'm all about apples and peaches, meself) but I certainly wasn't going to tear down a perfectly good fruit tree just because I'm particular.
I have been anxiously awaiting the blossoms on this tree, and for all it's tinyness- this little white bride delivered. She's so beautiful and white (not pink, like a cherry ought to be, though!). I can't wait to see if anything grows this year- since nothing did last year.
I hardly saw a single bee on the tree, but luckily our rough winds (and even light snow this week!) managed to come after most of the blossoms had disappeared again.
I have very high hopes.
And my fingers are crossed for an apricot. Even though this would be the shortest, squattest apricot tree ever grown. But I love it.

You: I really love when you tell boring, pointless stories about your trees!
Me: Thanks! Here's another!

One of my children was being terrible and whiney. He was moping around the yard complaining and moaning, as five year olds are sometimes wont to do.
I finally I said, "If you do a job for me, I will give you FIVE chocolate chips."
He was suspicious.
"What kind of job?"
"I need you to sit under the blossom tree and read a book, so I can take your picture," I said.
Dash away, dash away, dash away Micah!
He was back in thirty seconds with a Peter Rabbit collection and settled in for the easiest five chocolate chips that any boy ever earned.
And he was eventually joined by two other boys that didn't even require payment for reading under a miscellaneous stone-fruit tree.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Friday is a Good Day (to Light a Fire.)

One of my favorite traditions our little family has, is that of bonfires in the backyard.
We don't really do it every weekend, but we do it a few times a month. Its so fun for everyone to run around together- helping to prepare dinner together, being careful and excited around the fire, and roasting marshmallows at last- right before bed.
This is a tradition that we started in our last house, where we lived with the Laurents, and somehow it still feels strange that they aren't there with us while we are building the fire. I expect another little blond child with dirt and soot on her face (from trying to eat sticky marshmallows that were probably dropped on the ground.)
So, Elizabeth, just know that we still miss you every time we do this!

The truth is, if my kids are in the backyard, I usually try to ignore them most of the time! They play or explore, race bikes, dig in mud, and I read or work in the garden- or go back inside and try to have some alone-time! But when we have a bonfire in the middle of the yard, we all stay together! I can very easily imagine them forgetting it's there and running right into it. So our weekend bonfires actually turn into a really nice time for us to sit and talk or play together.
Travis teaches the boys how to help build a fire and tells them stories of campouts and adventures from when he was a boy scout, and they look forward to the time that they can be boy scouts too! We all swing in the hammock, or take turns pushing each other, and have a really nice time- even before the hotdogs arrive (which we all know is, sadly, my kids' favorite food.)

So, if you think pizza is gross (it kind of is- especially if you have to eat it gluten-free like we do- and then it's expensive too!) then I would highly recommend changing your "Friday Night Pizza Tradition" (which everyone in America seems to celebrate) to "Friday Night Bonfire Tradition," which is more fun, more delicious, makes you feel kind of like you went camping, and doesn't involve any video games. And it smells better, but doesn't make your house smell weird the next morning. Basically, it's better than pizza in every way. Except that cold hotdogs can't compete with cold pizza for next-morning breakfast, that's true. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Springtime Boys

Lately I've been wanting to write on my blog, I even write out blog posts in my head while I'm doing other things (as one does). But it feels like such a commitment. Like, if I write on my blog once this month and not again, then it would have been better if I hadn't written at all.
I'm fairly sure I could write a nice long motivational talk on why that isn't true. But it still feels true.
As you probably know, I basically haven't taken any pictures for a year.
I take a few here or there, on special occasions like birthdays. But hardly ever any other time.
But the last few weeks, August has become very interested in pouring over our family photo albums, and it breaks my heart that our 2015 is going to be so skimpy. I feel encouraged to actually take pictures again! And pictures lead to blog posts, because I like to share the cuteness.

Here are some pictures of the boys from recently. I've taken several posed pictures in the last month, ("Go sit under the blossom tree and read a book.") but these are extra precious, because they are not posed. Micah and I were sitting under the linden tree in the front yard, while he twisted little twigs in his hands and we talked. Then he hopped up to show me how his rope-climbing was improving.

I love this picture of his hands, so much. They've changed so much from the tiny dimpled hands that they used to be, and yet they're still so small. They look exactly like minature versions of Travis' hands right now. Even the nails are shaped the same, and his knobbly knuckles are dry in the same places.

I've tried to encourage the boys to help and participate in the garden, but it turns out their favorite place is where nothing is planted and they can go crazy with the mud!

And here is sweet August in his swing. His birthday is this weekend, and I think he really needs a new swing as his gift- this pathetic thing was given to me for free, and it is now cracked and only one buckle works and the strap is too tight, but can't be loosened! It's very pathetic. And yet, August loves this swing. Now that he has the chickens, he forgets about the swing- it's true. But whenever he takes a forced hiatus from the chicken coop (as is sometimes necessary, tragically) he heads straight for the swing. He'd be content to have me push him for an hour straight or longer.

I usually don't make it an hour- let's be honest. What really happens is, I wander away and come back every few minutes to give him a big push, or call to his brothers "Go push the baby in the swing!"
He isn't a baby. I guess I know that.
But it's still hard to believe. Two seems so very big and so very little all at once.

Also. You're welcome.
This picture is my favorite.


Sunday, April 17, 2016

Family Conversations

Recently we had friends over for dinner. I finished eating first and offered to feed their three-month old. When the mom handed me the baby's bottle, Micah looked completely baffled. "But Mom," he said,  "You have breasts."
Thank you for knowing how babies eat. You're amazing.
A little later, Travis was telling a story to the adults and said, "He really just wanted to milk me for a sponsorship."
Grey whispered to me, horrified, "Mom, how can a man milk another man? Men don't even make milk!"
No, indeed, they don't.

Grey: Will we still be twins, even when we are grownups and we separate to live in different houses?

Micah: Someday, when I'm a grownup and my wife has a baby, maybe I'll come visit you by myself- while she's in the hospital.
Me: Or maybe I'll come visit you, so I can see the baby and help take care of you.
Micah: I have a good idea! Maybe you could even be the grandma, if you want to.
Grey: When I am a grown up, and I want to go on a date with my wife- I'll probably let you be the babysitter.
Me: Wow, what an honor. Thank you.
Grey: Just PROBABLY. I'll ask some other people too, sometimes. You won't ALWAYS get to babysit.

 (Grey was sitting shirtless:)
Grey: People will think "He has an invisible shirt on."
Me: That probably won't be their first thought.
Grey: But their second thought, maybe.

Me: I love you, you guys are my favorite.
Micah: Wow, thank you! That's a kind thing to say!
Me: I just want to kiss you all day.
Grey: I wouldn't mind some kissing, thanks.

Micah: I just want to hold all the cute, snuggly things!
Me: Like what? Animals?
Micah: BABY animals! Like a very cute baby dinosaur.

Lady at the park: I like your cape. You must be a superhero.
Micah: I am not. I am a boy, but I'm pretending to be Robin Hood.

Micah (whispering from around the corner, in an accent): And the sneakiest child in the home is Micah Pitcher.

Me: Let's snuggle all day.
Micah: No. Get up. You have WORK to do!

Grey: Happy Birthday! (I'm talking to myself.)

Grey and Micah (shouting out the window): HEY LOSERS!
Travis: Hey! That is never okay to say.
Grey: We just said... Lasers.
Micah: I said Lizards. "Hey Lizards!"

Micah: Ham and Cheese, please!
Me: I'm not making you a sandwich. You can have some cheese, or a piece of bread and jam- but that's as close as you'll get.
Micah: Hmm. Okay. How about a piece of bread with a little bit of mayonnaise and cheese on it? And then another piece of bread with ham on it. And then, maybe I'll put them together and try to be happy with that.
Me: Not happening.
Micah: Did you know I was trying to trick you into making me a sandwich?

Travis: You need to help your mom today and a good place to start it by cleaning your room.
Micah: I'm not going in there! It's a pig-hole!

Micah: Mom, the Holy Ghost told me that Heavenly Father will always help me.
Me: That's true, I'm glad you're listening to the Holy Ghost.
Micah: So where is he? I'm ready for him to start by helping clean my room.
Me: Well, he won't clean your room for you. Heavenly Father helps you by making your body strong enough to do it yourself.
*** (Five minutes later)***
Micah: Mom, quick! Come see! Jesus helped me clean my room, that I could do it SO fast!

(Driving on "the other side of the tracks," near the Trax station in downtown Salt Lake.)
Grey: I've never been down here. It's dark and scary though.

Me: Please don't walk across the garden beds.
Grey: But this is the Red Sea! And Moses and his people HAVE to cross the Red Sea, and I AM MOSES!

Micah: We will live in this house forever and never move again.
Me: Maybe I will live here forever, but in thirteen years- I bet you guys move out.
Grey: Why?
Me: Hmm, where do you think you'll go?
Grey & Micah: TO FIND WIVES!
Me: Um, no. That's not what I meant! When you're 18 you'll probably leave to serve missions and teach people about Jesus. And then when you come home, you can go to college and then get married.
Micah: Because college is the place to find wives?
Grey: Is that where you found Daddy?
Me: That is where I found Daddy, but that's not the purpose of college.
Grey: Are there so many women at college that want to be wives?
Me: Well, there are many women at college, and maybe some want to get married- but people don't go to college to get married, they go to learn.
Micah: If I find a girl that I want to marry, I will say "Do you want to be married to me and be a wife?" and she will say "yes" or "no," and then I will either marry her or not marry her.
Grey: You will only marry her if she says yes. It's not good to have a wife that doesn't want to marry you.

Micah: Things are all made of the same things. But I don't remember what things!

Grey: Please help meeeee. Pleeeease.
Me: I'm not going to help you. You can do it.
Grey: But this is the reason mothers are on earth! To help their children!

Grey: I know one of your wishes.
Me: What?
Grey: You don't want to wipe my butt.
Me: You're correct.
Grey: I know all of your wishes. I know everything you wish for.
Me: Okay, what else?
Grey: You know. They're yours. I'm not saying anymore.

Grey: I don't like the color blue.
Me: You must! Blue is the color of the sky and water, and your eyes!
Grey: Well I can't see my own eyes, so that's why I don't like it!

Grey: Heavenly Father, please help me to do so much kindness and goodness so that Mom can have a girl baby.

Grey: Do you hate your mom?
Me: No! I love her the most of anyone in the whole world, except you guys.
Grey: Oh Mom, and yourself. You need to love and care about yourself too.
Micah: And Jesus, Mom. You should love him more than you love anyone else- even us.

Micah: I was very cross!
Grey: Cross means angry.
Micah: I know. We're good at using our own words.

Micah: But Grey! Mom asked us to do this, we are letting her down.
Grey: No! I will let her UP!

Grey: Yes.
Me: What's wrong with your legs?
Grey: Nothi-

Micah: If you're being so mean to us- MAYBE YOU SHOULD LIVE IN THE MOUNTAINS BY YOURSELF. But, I guess, you'd get lonely. Maybe we'll pick you up on Sunday and bring you to church, so you can learn to be nice again. And then, if you're good- you can come back home with us afterward.

Grey: You're already dressed!
Me: No, I'm just wearing pajamas. 
Grey: And who FORCED you into those pajamas?

Micah: UGH! I hate this Stewart book, it's so boring, it's making me sicker and sicker!

Micah: Mom, what are vitamins?
Me: Vitamins are like medicine, but you take them to help your body stay strong instead of taking them when you're already sick. 
Micah: I guess I should have taken my vitamins. If I had taken them, would I never be sick like this again?

Micah: Looking at a picture of Elanor makes me more and more miss her. Just like looking at chocolate chips makes me more and more want to eat them.

Me: I need you to be such hard workers, and if we have another baby in our family-
Grey: We'll have one more person to help us work!

Micah: I found my sweater! It has been haunted many times by mysterious monsters. And if we unzip this, something will fly out into somebody's face- AND IT COULD BE YOUR FACE, DAD. So be careful.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Five Year Olds

April Fools! For my hilarious prank today, I'm pretending like I'm a real blogger again.
Because, you guys, a whole month has gone by since I took these pictures- documenting that my children are now five years old.
Now that they're five, I've instructed them to start telling people that they're in Kindergarten. I'm so great at home schooling. Ha! (Another hilarious prank.)
How many pictures of Grey and Micah can I post, wherein they are looking straight at the camera and smiling with their pointy teeth, sparkly blue eyes and perfect, yellow-white hair, and their arms are around each other and they look too cute to be real? AS MANY AS I WANT, OKAY?
That's a mother's right! I know they all look exactly the same- (and in fact, even my children look the same) but these are the cutest pictures that I've ever seen and I love them.
My wittle babies are all growed up. (Crying emoji! Because I know longer know how to even write without tiny facial expressions.)

Grey and Micah are both so creative, imaginative, and wacky- more than any other kids I know. They play so well together and spend the majority of their time playing house, having adventures, digging in the garden, or snuggling together. But always together. They both spend so much time trying to make each other laugh, and trying to help or comfort each other. Lately they've been playing "Winter in the Big Woods," in which they build a fort to be their cabin, and then they hunt wild animals, plant a garden, milk their cows and "eat lots of meat, because thats the only food you can get in the winter."
We've read many chapter books out loud together- and their favorites this year have been The Boxcar Children, Peter Pan, Charlotte's Web, and The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. They liked Robin Hood, but the language was tricky- more than anything it opened their imagination to games like "Merry Men in the Green Wood." (They like to title their games.)
They love August, but want him to be abel to keep up in everything they do. They usually assign him a silent role in their games, like R2D2, a baby bear, an unhatched egg, etc. 

Grey, at five is imaginative and funny- he is constantly telling us stories, doing impersonations and giving inanimate objects names. He's so thoughtful and spends a lot of his time zoned out or by himself, he'll get lost in his own world and I'll find him sitting in the garden talking to himself and laughing, and then a few minutes later he'll tell me "I wish I were a chicken, so they'd let me join their flock." He's always legitimately surprised and flattered when I say that I love him more than anything in the world. He loves to read and tries SO hard to understand decoding, and listens the best when we read aloud. He has an eye for beauty and constantly compliments the people around him. Every single day, he tells me some variation of "You look beautifuller than ever, today."
He's always the first to spot flowers or notice the sunset and he tells me that it touches his heart and makes him feel happy. He's determined to be GOOD and often asks about or explains pretty deep spiritual and scriptural truths, and tells me that he can feel the Holy Ghost helping him make good choices. 
He has been having nightmares lately, but more often than not- they begin before he's even asleep. He tiptoes out of his room a few times a night and tells me "I had a scary thought," usually it's about monsters, natural disasters, and/or his family disappearing. He gets scared VERY easily, and even cries during shows like Curious George, because he's afraid George will get in trouble for causing mischief. He's very shy and sensitive- something that's been difficult for me to get used to. I'm afraid I often embarrass him by drawing attention or laughter towards him - something Micah and I would both like! But which leave Grey feeling humiliated and shy. 
He's really into Robin Hood (or Will Scarlet especially- as you can tell by his cloak- the only thing he wanted for his birthday.), Princess Leia, and birds and owls. He and Micah play "Birds" all the time, and build lots of forts and nests. Grey keeps his stuffed owl Katie with him at all times, and will cry that she is so scared, hurt, messy, can't sleep, etc -without him. I heard him tell Micah "She's very easy to take care of, because she doesn't even poop." Then he carefully covered her ears and whispered, "She's only stuffed with fluff, but she thinks she's real."
He is my oldest and my gentlest, the one I think will grow up and be a poet, my sweet five year old: Grey.

Micah is such a theatrical, passionate boy. He's so much like me! He wants to have everyone's attention and love, he wants to be admired and hilarious, and always surrounded by lots of friends. He directs their play (without being OVERLY bossy- I think) because he's so imaginative and adventurous and because he's such a natural leader. He always has fun ideas and will assign everyone in their group roles, and gets heartbroken very easily if he feels that someone is not including him or wishes he wouldn't play with them. 
When it's just the two of us- he showers me with so much love and compliments, hugs and kisses, and wants to be touching, hand holding, tickling or snuggling all the time. He asks to "just snuggle together" all the time, and if I won't snuggle, he'll try to snuggle August instead. He loves to make August laugh and will try to pick him up and carry him around so that August will stay with him all day. 
He has a quick temper, but he's also quick to forgive and to help when people are hurt or sad. He is SO helpful around the house, and is constantly asking "Am I being very useful? How can I serve you?" 
He has a very good grasp on right and wrong, and will FIGHT if you contradict him (Gryffindor much? ) He wants to be making good choices all the time- and if you point out that he did something rude or unkind, he gets very upset and defensive, but usually tries to fix it right away too. When ever people don't do what he wants them to do, he threatens them "You're going to make Jesus mad!" or "You're choosing Satan's side!" which is fairly terrible and also funny! Because he thinks that's the worst imaginable insult and people are sure to change their ways and do what he tells them if he says that. 
He loves to talk about the gospel and about choosing to act like people from the scriptures. But he's also sort of tricky and wants to walk the line whenever he's not sure if somethings really bad or not. He found the bag of Easter toys and candy before I gave them out, and was afraid to admit that he'd gone through it. Instead he told me, "I don't know. I think I looked a little, because August wanted to see- but I don't remember what was in there."
He has picked up reading SO quickly and often reads things off of signs or books, even though we haven't been doing school or practicing very much. 
He always wants to pretend to be a hero from a story(while Grey is much more content as the sidekick.) He is Robin Hood, Batman, Peter Pan, Luke Skywalker, and Frodo always, and so he also always has his cloak on. 
My middle child, my mini-me. My lover and fighter and knight-in-shining armor: Micah.