A love letter to Audible

Listening.

 

Dear Audible,

I was late to your party, I thought I had experienced audio books and didn’t feel the need to add one more digital subscription to my life.  I feel like I should apologize for those early thoughts seeing as how you have become such a huge influence in my day to day life.

I am a person who does not have dyslexia, living with three people who do.  Two of them are my children and it took me awhile to figure all that out.  I thought that maybe my kids were late bloomers, or I had not spent enough time on spelling, or they weren’t trying very hard or I hadn’t found the right kind of books to get them hooked on independent reading.  Then one day, my husband was working from home and got the “up-close and personal” view of our homeschool day.  “Hmmmm,” he said, “hearing the kids go through their school day reminded me a lot of my own frustrations in school.  Dyslexia can be genetic, we should have them tested.”

The rest is history, or maybe I should say a new beginning.  A beginning that had me whole heartedly determined that my kids were not going to miss out on a love of literature.  But there is the reality that I cannot read out loud all day every day, also some books are HARD to read out loud and some don’t interest me, like what ever book came after “The Lightening Thief”!  Audible doesn’t get tired or loose it’s voice, Audible doesn’t have to stop to switch the laundry or make dinner, Audible doesn’t force my kids to ONLY listen to “mom-approved quality” literature, it offers them everything, all the time.

That’s the first part, you helped my kids, and that’s huge but you also helped us as a family.  You’ve given us shared friends, shared stories, shared experiences.  We spent a month of evenings listening to, “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas” together.  We laughed, held our breath, sighed with relief, and occasionally fell asleep together.  We loved the shared time so much that we did “The Wind in the Willows” right after it.  A long car trip would not be complete without a “Harry Potter” book, but we’ve sprinkled in dozens of others for the shorter trips in our life.  A few favorites are “The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict”, “The Chronicles of Prydain”, “Whittington”.  Without this audio option my husband would miss out on all of these stories, all of these experiences and people that my kids talk about.

Please keep adding to your library, please keep improving based on the suggestions of your loyal community, please keep your costs affordable so anyone and everyone can enjoy the beauty of being read a story.

Many thanks.

Your loyal customer and big fan,

Diane

 


What 9 and 11 looks like

My youngest is 9 years old, the last of his single digit years.  He’s an old soul, possesses an inner calm, he has not out grown his righteousness streak and I wonder if it’s simply a part of his character.  He is quietly bold, I feel his presence deeply at the times he does NOT say something or does NOT react to provocation.  That said, one of my great joys is to hear him wax poetic about something – anything!  Like most lightly spoken people, when they DO say something, you want to listen!  Once tidy, he now prefers his room……un-tidy.  He has a best friend, he has a more complicated relationship with his sister that is more about choice than just being related.  He holds my hand or his sister’s hand or his dad’s hand when we walk places.  He gives me a morning hug and asks to be tucked in to bed at night.  He loves being read to and got into biographies about Robert E. Lee this year.  He also found a love for Stephen Foster, arguably America’s first pop star, you many know him from “O Susannah”.  He likes Rick Riordan books, J. K. Rowling, the “Wings of Fire” series, “Johnny Tremain” and “Where The Red Fern Grows” also top his list.  He skied his first black slope this year and put us all to shame on the mogals.  He is kind, honest and brave.

My daughter, my fearless wonder, is 11 but if you ask her how old she is, she may reply, “I’m almost 13”.  It seems she may choose to jump over year 12 altogether!  She decided to quit dancing this year, which was a brave, wonderful choice.  She has found a joy in art –  painting, drawing, clay work, I can see this being a steady thing in her life.  She’s thinking about what she’d like to be when she grows up, the answers are costume designer, architect, inventor.  She struggles with school everyday and gets very sad when the results don’t line up with her expectations, it breaks my heart.  But try she does and after a pep talk she’s ready to plunge in again and again.  She has an excellent memory and if you get the chance to hear her recite poetry you are in for a treat.  She loves being read to and always asks for another chapter when our time is up.  She fell in love with “Anne of Green Gables” this year and all I can think is “of course,” she is SO like Anne.  In our homeschool group of foam sword duels and nerf gun wars, she is considered one of the best fighters, even among the older kids.  She is often elected the leader of the teams and relishes creating maps and assigning each player’s duties.  She’s a loner, she’s courageous, she looks out for the little ones – whether little in spirit or in size.  She loves animals, she still loves Toca Boca games, she could eat a hamburger and chocolate shake everyday if I let her, she sings along with the radio and dances in the car, she plays legos and likes to keep her room tidy (this is a new development).

For all the young mamas and papas out there, who are just getting started with their families, I send you love, support, encouragement, peace, and rest.

 


What 8 and 10 looks like

Sleepy 10 and wide awake 8

Sleepy 10 and wide awake 8 leaving Big Bend National Park

Today my kids are 9 and 11, since I wasn’t in the habit of blogging when 8 and 10 commenced, I wrote my thoughts down in a good old fashion journal.

At 8 years old you so aware, so curious, so thoughtful about the world around you.  You are fast, you are strong, you love Harry Potter books and your cat, Goodman.  You’ve made a best friend, your first beyond your sister and this family.  You received your First Communion and asked so many great questions through out the whole process it made me consider religious education in a new light.  You enjoy more space from your sister this year, you are putting more importance in your own voice instead of always deferring to her.  I still get one of your amazing morning hugs every morning, you still like to be tucked in at night, you are still not very good at brushing your teeth – this might be a personality thing?  You have some of the neatest hand writing I’ve ever seen on an 8 year old – boy or girl.  I love you more.

At 11 years old some changes are definitely afoot.  You are sleepy again, almost like a toddler, your emotions can overwhelm you and bring you way down or raise you way up – this scares you a bit and we are learning to ride these waves together.  Your love of dance continues and you had your first year preforming with the competitive dance team, you LOVE performing.  Ballet has replaced hip-hop as your preferred style of dance.  You are clever, funny, sincere, innocent, beautiful and vulnerable.  You let things in, you try things out, you remain one of the most fearless people I’ve ever encountered.  I love you more too.

For a walk down memory lane here’s: What 7 and 9 look like and 6 and 8.


A lot can happen in a year

And sometimes it can feel like nothing changes during those 365 days.  I turned 40, I joined Instagram – to look at others, not to post (for now), I have gray hairs, I’m better at homeschooling, I started watching “Fixer-Upper” along with most of Texas.  My kids are now 9 and 11 and life feels very sweet.

Here’s what Addie’s looks like:

We took out a wall to open these rooms (total Fixer-Upper move).

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Trying to save the original windows with some sanding and priming.

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We are finishing the floors throughout the house this month with a dark stain.  We found a really cool carpenter who loves old windows as much as we do.  He plans to rebuild the original windows and will travel from Ft. Worth to Camden to install them personally!

On the homeschooling front I’ve signed up for my first homeschooling conference through these guys: Wild and Free  Most of my school mornings begin with either a glance at their Instagram account or Courtney Adamo’s.  It puts my head in the nicest place and my kids reap the rewards of a calmer (more calm?) mama/teacher.

About 4 weeks old, don't know gender, we've treated them for worms, fleas and are both finishing a round of antibiotics.

Kittens about 4 weeks old, don’t know gender, we’ve treated them for worms, fleas and are both finishing a round of antibiotics.

Last but not least, we found these kittens abandoned at our local park, if anyone in the DFW area knows of someone looking for a new pet or pets please comment below.

 


What 7 and 9 looks like

7 and 9 on their first ski lift

7 and 9 on their first ski lift

Over a year ago I did a post on what 6 and 8 looks like and it’s something I find myself going back to read over and over.  So before these years pass me by here’s a snapshot of 7 and 9.

My 9 year old daughter now poses for pictures, she talks about how the zoo offends her, “I mean what if you were a lion, do you want a million kids passing by and tapping on the glass while you are bored out of your mind?!?!  It’s just wrong.”  She’s ready for more independence, walks around the neighborhood by herself, bikes to the park on her own, wants more time with her peers.  She still likes a hug first thing in the morning.  She still has her brother sleep over every night on the couch in her room.  Tears have started to fall for incomprehensible reasons, she calls these moments growing pains and it’s terrifying when I consider adolescence in this force that is my daughter.  She’s one of the coolest people I know.

My 7 year old son dances when no one (except my daughter) is watching and boy can he move.  His “R” sound is still soft and it makes him seem younger than he is.  He gets frustrated when his sister is able to catch on to things faster than he can (like skiing) but his careful personality pays off when he explains how NOT to fall off a ski lift to his older sister (which, of course, she did).  He asked me this week if I knew the bad word that rhymes with “buck”.  The bad words he’s currently aware of include “stupid” and “shut up” so times are changing!  He still cuddles and is generous and thoughtful like his dad.  He’s one of the kindest people I know.

This crazy parenting experience provides something new with every passing year.  I wonder if anyone ever feels like they are good at this job/role?  On one hand I can’t believe I have the privilege of helping these little beings grow, on the other I cannot believe the challenge of helping these little beings grow – what a mix!  To all the parents out there, here’s to us!


Stop me if you’ve heard this one

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Here I am day 4 of homeschooling.  Yes, we are teaching the kids at home now.  I cannot believe how many spelling/phonics rules I’ve never been privy too.  Sure maybe you can rattle off, “‘i’ before ‘e’ except after ‘c’ or when pronounced ‘a’ as in neighbor and weigh”.  When my kids were small they loved Starfall, and I learned the handy jingle, “when two vowels go walking the first one does the talking” (Like in meat or treat).  But this week while getting familiarized with Spalding’s, “The Writing Road to Reading” I’ve picked a gold mine of this stuff, for example:

1.  ‘c’ says ‘s’ when filled by e, i or y

2.  ‘v’ and ‘u’ can’t have the last word (meaning in English we don’t end words in ‘u’ or ‘v’

3.  ‘g’ may say ‘j’ when followed by ‘e’, ‘i’, or ‘y’

There’s about 29 of these rules, about half I’d never heard before!  Although my children don’t seem to be quite as enthused as I about this fascinating new world where the English language has started to make more sense, they did say they are having fun at school again!  That alone would have been worth it but knowing that many vowels have more than just short and long sounds also rocks.

 

 

 


Addie’s House 2

Back to Arkansas where the only time I think about my hair is to check for spiders before calling it a day.  How about a little look inside?  Truthfully we still haven’t had the opportunity to fully assess the inside of the house.  A family member uses the house for storage and until we get everything moved out, we’re not really sure about how everything looks within.

Part of the back room of the house.

Part of the back room of the house.

Talk about the land of the lost, this house seems to be where things go to be forgotten, but try to look past the stuff and get a glimpse of the floor……I’m sensing some interesting things there.

Here's the other side of the room, whoa look at that natural light streaming through the bathroom.

Here’s the other side of the room, whoa look at that natural light streaming through the bathroom.

Time to roll up our sleeves and get cleaning.

Child labor is highly helpful, you should see this kid suck up the dearly departed wasps with the shop vac!  Who needs video  games with fun like that?!

Child labor is highly helpful, you should see this kid suck up the dearly departed wasps with the shop vac!   Who needs video games with fun like that?!

Many, many sweaty hours later we were able to clean out three rooms.  This whole exercise was a huge motivation for living simply!

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Hey, where'd the kids go?

Hey, where’d the kids go?

What the......

What the……

Nothing quite like building traps in the sand-like Arkansas soil while tethering yourself to the porch!

Nothing quite like building traps in the sand-like Arkansas soil while tethering yourself to the porch!

What else sounds like fun?

Sawing some stuff down?

Sure, never done that before!

So much harder than I imagined!

So much harder than I imagined!

Just keep breathing, arms must keep moving.  It's gotta come down eventually....

Just keep breathing, arms must keep moving. It’s gotta come down eventually….

That little 2 inch tree was my Everest, so darn proud of myself!

That little 2 inch tree was my Everest, so darn proud of myself!

Lastly, found this little inspiration for the house “skirt”.  We will probably only be able to do this in the front and use lattice around the sides and back, but I think it’ll compliment the house perfectly.

photo via the internet

photo via the internet

Hope you’re enjoying our Arkansas adventures, until next time!