Saturday, April 19, 2014

Becca is not Kate

It is surprising to me how each of my children's personalities come fully developed.  From the moment that they are born they are themselves and so different from each other.  The contrast seems the most between Kate and Becca because Kate was so timid and Becca seems so adventuresome in comparison.  Some of that is true, and some is perception.  For example,  Becca is starting to choose out her own clothes, and isn't afraid to go in the basement, but Kate still won't go downstairs by herself and is terrified that she might get left there.

This is how I remember Kate at that age - sleepy, timid and sucking her thumb.
Becca doesn't nap as much as Kate did - only and hour or two a day, but she still gets tired.  The other day Becca climbed up on top of the piano, and then fell asleep perched on the keys and the quilt blocks piled on the top amidst the cluttered piano books. 
I thought that no way would Kate do something like that, but here is a picture I found of Kate at that same age.  Kate did climb up on the piano after all, but you can tell it is her since she is sucking her thumb and twirling her hair.  I was wrong.  Kate was just as daring as her sister.

On a completely different topic, amazingly she has stopped sucking her thumb.  Leila put foul tasting fingernail polish on her thumbs - Kate says it tastes like lady bug legs.  She was traumatized for the first day and had a hard time sleeping.  She couldn't fall asleep and was so stressed about it that she started to throw up.  The next day she was a little better, and then from then on no more thumb sucking.  Two weeks now without regressing.  Breakthrough.

Here is an example where Becca seems much more adventuresome than Kate and I can document that in this case this is true.  We roasted marshmallows outside the other night and Becca was entranced by the fire and wanted to be right in the midst of everyone.

Here is that same scene in June of 2012.  Notice the head poking up by the stairs,  that is Kate.  That is as close as she would come to the smoldering coals. 

This is Colleen at about the same age as Becca and I think they look the most alike even though they have very different personalities.  

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Spring break road trip

Warning.  This is a bit of a photo dump.  The kids and I wanted to get out of the house while they were off for spring break.  So, road trip!

First stop - prairie near Pella.  It was freezing, and Becca was asleep.  The buffalo were way in the distance.  And it was freezing. We kept going.
Aleah begged to go to Pella.  She went with Leila this summer (read more here) and fell in love with the place.  She almost loves it as much as the Statue of Liberty.  
The kids got to help paint the sails for the windmill.  
Then, more driving an napping.  
Becca and I enjoyed Nauvoo while the other girls finished their video in the car.  
In St. Louis, we went to the City Museum - Aleah informed me that it isn't really a museum it is a giant jungle gym.  I can't really express how cool this place is.  That tube  with a line of kids is really four stories up in the air.  The first three floors of the factory are riddled with tunnels and sculptures, swings, trees, and slides.  Lots of slides.  Ten story slides.  That you can only get to by climbing inside the mouth of a statue of a whale and into the ceiling.  
Aleah, posing all casual in the airplane. 
Kate was a little terrified of all the confined spaces.  
I gave Colleen the camera to take of some of the narrower tunnels Becca and I couldn't fit in. 
Kate came running out of this tunnel because she was scared of the skeletons. I assured her there were no skeletons.  There were skeletons. 
We spent the night at hotels with pools.  Becca has no fear of water and I had to watch her attentively.  Kate on the other hand was terrified. 
Our camera actually is waterproof we found out.  
Aleah demonstrating her backfloat skills. 
Kate took a bunch of cool photos of the hot tub bubbles. 
Here is to a fun vacation!

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Sew famous!

Leila wrote about me on her sewing blog.  Her skills have greatly improved while mine remain the same.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Photos and updates from the never-ending winter in Iowa


Becca is eager to help Leila work on her quilting and her book, including stepping on all quilt blocks laid out on the floor, pounding on keys at the computer and negotiating for turning on "Phineas and Ferb" with hand signs, shrugs, and grunts whenever the computer is on.

She also is the first to put on her winter clothes hoping that someone will take her outside to play.  She always knows where her shoes and coat are and most days dresses herself in them or grunts for help so that she is ready to go outside at all times.  Plus it is cold in our house. . . 

She also wants to do all of the same things as the big kids including finger and head painting.  Emily showed her how to write on herself and often she has marker scribbled up and down her legs and belly if she can find a marker.  We try to keep them hidden, but you know how it is. 

Kate probably will be more than ready for school next year.  Colleen sits her down and teaches her much of what she has learned each day, especially wisdom from "Life Skills" like the dangers of playing with sharp stuff.  Kate wants badly to submit drawings to the friend and will write her name on anything she can.

I put this up to show Emily's belly writing handiwork.  Kate and Becca seem to have perpetual belly smiles.

Colleen thrives at school.  She usually holds class after school for her little sisters and teaches them writing and drawing from school.  Our friend Doug sat down with her when he was here last summer and practiced drawing with her and it has made a lasting impact.  She often practices drawing eyes and shading, just like her practice with Doug.  She will regularly tell us about all that she learned during her art lessons with Doug and how that has made her drawing so much better.  

Colleen sees the world in black and white.  She regularly talks to us about how she is going to just grow up to be a mom and that she doesn't need to go to college because she will just end up taking care of kids at home. I don't know where she gets this stuff because Leila and I have always pushed higher ed and both of us are college grads.  Leila does stay home, but wow.

Colleen begged to take piano lessons at the beginning of the year.  She is the most eager to practice and loves to make up her own songs to stories.  She played me a long song the other day that was a musical version of "Goldilocks and the three bears" complete with a theme for each bear and Goldilocks and a scale progression for their trip upstairs and a pounding discordant escape at the end.  She has been begging to start the violin and I hope that it goes as well.

I will write more about the rest of the girls as soon as I find the camera to take some pictures of them.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Do you wish you kept taking piano lessons?

Aleah is my reluctant piano student. She swears she will never regret quitting piano lessons.  I have discussed with her there are a lot of people out there that wish they had kept taking lessons.  Are you one of them?  Do you have a story to tell her that will keep her playing piano?

So embarrassing

A week or two ago now, Leila was at her quilt guild meeting and I was home with the girls.  We were watching Phineas and Ferb on Netflix.  Becca was wandering through the kitchen.  Suddenly, the lights in the living room and the computer/library room went out.

I installed three ceiling fans in those rooms a few years ago.  Instead of pull cords, each fan is controlled by a remote control.  My first thought was that Becca was playing with the remote control, but it was high up on the shelf, out of her reach.  I tried turning them on and off with the remote, but it didn't work.

Next, I went downstairs while the girls watched TV in the dark to check to see if we had flipped a breaker switch - one of the joys of living in an old house that has been rewired when convenient ever since 1906 by not so professional handymen.  None seemed to be flipped and it seemed like the library was on a different breaker from the living room, plus the outlets were on the same switch and should be out as well.

I tried poking around and following cords to see if there was a problem, but I had a hard time tracking which cord from which junction box in the basement ceiling went to the lights in the living room.  I decided to call Mike - my neighbor and the previous owner of the house.  He did a lot of updates to the electric, plumbing, added a kitchen, finished the basement, added the built-ins, and on and on.  Whenever I am stuck, Mike knows how to fix it.  Mike said he would come right over.  Mike knew which junction boxes went where and pretty soon we had them open, but were confused by the eight wires that went into one box that should only have had four.  We opened the light switches and reconnected the wires.  Nothing.

Then we started taking down the ceiling fans to see what could be the problem there.  I had a crazy theory that a mouse had chewed through the wires and disconnected the fans.  No evidence of a mouse, only my less than stellar installation of the ceiling fans.  After dismantling the second ceiling fan, Mike suggested that we go get a light from his house and connect it to where the ceiling fan was to see, just to be sure, that there wasn't a problem with the fan.  The light turned on.

It was a problem with the fan, and it got worse.  Mike asked if we had changed the batteries in the remote control recently.  I had not.  I changed the batteries, pointed it at the remaining ceiling fan and the light turned on.

By now it was almost 11:00.  The kids were in bed.  Leila was in bed.  Mike was tired and went home.  I was alone with three junction boxes to hook back up, all my light switches take apart, two ceiling fans to reinstall and totally and completely embarrassed that I had turned our house upside-down and pulled Mike into the chaos for a burnt out battery in the remote control.

Thursday, January 30, 2014


Before my trip to Mexico, Emily pressed her library book into my hand and made me swear that I wouldn't lose it.  She said she had read it over and over and still wasn't tired of it.  I would love it, she said.  She was right. 

Matthew Kirby has written a first-person fantasy novel that avoids all of the cliches.  There are no dwarves, elves, rings, schools of magic, quests, or orphans with a destiny, only the children of a Norse warlord waiting out the war in a tiny keep pressed against the edge of a glacier and a freezing fjord.  I guess this is juvenile fiction, but the best kind.  

This was the best book I have read this year.  I read it three times through in Mexico and I wasn't tired of it either.  

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Discussion about child abuse and risk from Facebook

  • Always, always keep this in mind...
    UPDATE: Man Arrested for Sexual Assault of a Child in College Station

    College Station Police have arrested 54 year old Isaiah Young of Bryan for sexually assaulting a child who was riding his bicycle home on Welsh Avenue last Friday night.

    READ STORY -->
    Like ·  ·  · Unfollow Post
    • Catrina Farnsworth What kind of parents let their kids run around unsupervised? I will NEVER EVER understand that mentality!! I can't stand it when I see kids (especially young tiny ones) walking home by themselves. Idiot parents!!! Don' they watch the news!!?? SORRY...But THIS CRAP infuriates me to no end. It breaks my heart so bad I literally feel heavy sadness in my chest when I hear about the assaults on young children. In talking to kids that Elena used to go to school with, a parent was usually home but still the kids were made to walk or bike home ALONE! No excuse for THAT!!! Grown people get kidnapped and assaulted everyday... and if that happens to adults, there is NO good reason to leave kids out in this world alone. It only takes a split second for them to be grabbed and that damage can NEVER be undone.
      22 hours ago · Like · 1
    • Brian Gardunia Really Catrina? You never were alone as a child?
    • Brian Gardunia In full disclosure, I let my kids walk or ride their bikes to school by themselves.
    • Catrina Farnsworth Yes really Brian!!!! And I will even apologize for my tone in advance as this subject is way too near and dear to my heart to be nice/ politically correct about. In my opinion you (people in general) are not doing your job as a parent to PROTECT your children if you leave them in the same position as this kid who was just sexually assaulted. Where is the common sense in knowing what can happen but allowing kids to be out on the streets without adult supervision? Only fools thinks these kinds of things will never happen to someone in their family... until it does. Anyone living in their little fairy tale land where nothing bad will ever happen to their kids is absurd, irresponsible and shows the huge lack of caution and concern for the safety of their children whom they are supposed to love and protect. A parent who deliberately leaves their child alone and accessible to evil predators is not fulfilling their calling as a parent to protect their children. Like I said before It only takes a split second for them to be grabbed and subsequently beaten, raped & murdered...even if they live, that damage can NEVER be undone. I have seen first hand the life long repercussions of someone who was raped as a child, someone, in fact 2 people who are very close to me. I have seen how they struggle everyday with the traumatic flashbacks that affect EVERY SINGLE aspect of their life & how they still cry as adults, suffer with depression & anxiety and continue to suffer throughout their adult lives. One was raped at 5 the other at 13! How can anyone look at the beauty, love, & innocence in children yet still allow them to be sittings ducks!? We can't even imagine the horrific pain physically & mentally that a child being raped goes through, a child being raped by a full grown man- all the while screaming for their mommy or daddy whether verbally or in their minds. How horribly abandoned, hopeless & frantic those children must feel while being raped wondering why their parents aren't there to scoop them up in hugs keep them safe. People like you need to spend some time with the officers, EMS & crime scene detectives on scene when they find the children bleeding & crying, so tortured that they can't stand to be touched even by their rescuers. Or worse being there when they find the body of a child who was raped and murdered (the rape of a child traumatizes and affects first responders as well (this I also known fist hand). Or maybe even better would be for you to stand next to the doctors who try to asses the damage done by the rape and suture the children back together! Plain and simple, we all know bad things can happen to even the most cautious prepared people, we can't live in a bubble after all. However when you disregard a child's safety because it is too much effort on your part to keep an eye on them, because it is easier to have a latch key kid, or you think it's cool that they have fun out on their own because they are good kids and you trust them... well that is when you have failed as a parent, taking the easy way out & putting them in harms way. How dare any self proclaimed "good responsible" parent fail their unsuspecting fragile children in such a way. Whatever happened to erring on the side of caution? Both of the child rape victims (now adults) that I am close to would NEVER agree that there is any good reason to leave children unsupervised for any amount of time. Those 2 women would go to their graves before they let a child they cared about out of their sight because they know the horror first hand that CAN BE prevented by a close vigilant parent.
    • Melinda Lawrence Catrina, what a cruel thing to say about people who are in a great deal of pain right now. I hope nothing tragic happens to any of your children. Even the most vigilant of parents have terrible things happen to them or their children.
      8 hours ago · Like · 1
    • Erin Hill Also, children who never learn to manage their own time or practice making decisions by themselves will struggle as adults.

      The world is a scary place for sure, but most attacks on children come from adults those children already know. Stranger danger
       feels urgent and pressing, but statistically, the dangers are closer to home. Parents should definitely be vigilant, but it is a fallacy to think that parents can be everywhere or protect from every thing. 

      One of the reasons we have a generation of helicopter parents/immature college students is because young people who are stepping out on their own have never really truly been on their own.

      For each family/person, the timing may be different, but I do think that part of being a good parent is helping my kids to learn to make good decisions.

      Also, in the case mentioned, the child may have been riding alone for lots of reasons. Some parents have to work at strange times not because they are lazy or can't be bothered to watch their children but because they need to provide clothing, food, and shelter. The person who should be blamed is the perpetrator! 

      Unfortunately, it may be just as misguided as people in a fairy tale land to believe that parents can stop everything. I definitely wish we could, but we can't.
      4 hours ago · Like · 3
    • Brian Gardunia It would be so awful if something happened. But, I am still going to let them walk to school. Unfortunately the most dangerous place for most children is their own homes. I tried to look up the numbers and the national numbers include neglect and physical abuse along with sexual abuse, but according to those databases 80.9% of child abuse cases 2007-2011 were perpetrated by the parents. Only 1% were from adults that did not have a relationship with the victim. The other common abusers were stepparents or step children, Boyfriends of the mother, uncles, cousins, teachers, neighbors, friends of the parents, or relatives of the child's friends.
      39 minutes ago · Like · 1
    • Brian Gardunia This discussion reminds me of a scene from Lost Boys by Orson Scott Card. In the book, there is a very real danger from a murderous pedophile in the neighborhood. There is a discussion between two parents about how to keep their children safe. One tries to keep their children at all times within eyesight, another does not. I will have to look it up and reread it. That book haunted me as a parent of young children. It is a disturbing novel, and one of his best ones. At it's core is this debate. I am not naive, but I refuse to live in fear either.
    • Brian Gardunia Pragmatically, no parent can supervise their children 100% of the time, especially if you have 5 like I do.