Why We Quit Listening to CDs (and mp3s)

Why We Quit Listening to CDs framed

I lightly touched on the fact that we’ve been listening to vinyl records instead of CDs or mp3s recently (in a 5 Random Things post). Today, I want to discuss the Whys of that decision and what we’ve learned/observed in the weeks since we switched.

Let me preface this post by saying that I am not a music person. At all. I could easily give up music and not even think twice about it. I don’t like the oppressive feeling I get when it’s playing (especially in the car). I hate the inability to escape it when Will or the kids are listening to it in the house.

So when Will came home one day before Christmas with a record player, I was skeptical. For one thing, it would be a bigger item taking up space in the house. For another, because it was “new” and “different,” I knew they’d want to listen to music all the time. And finally, it seemed silly to me to have a new medium of playing music – specifically, one that didn’t work with the way we already owned music (mp3s, mostly). It would require us to buy – or rebuy – music, which wasn’t something I was all that interested in doing. But Will wanted the turntable, so he bought it. Along with one new record and a few used ones.

After just a few days of having the turntable, I was mostly a convert. Enough of one, anyway, for Will to decide he wanted another turntable – one for “me” to have upstairs (where the main living areas of our home are) and one for him to keep in his home office downstairs. So we went to the store to see what they had in the record-player category. (We knew they’d have something because it was the same store where he’d purchased the first one. It was just a matter of seeing what more/other options they had since it’d been a couple of weeks.) When we got there, we found the player in the picture up above. We were taken aback by just how perfectly that one would complement our living room decor. We already had that blue table – with no real plan for what to do with it – and we knew that when we saw the blue-cased turntable that it belonged in our house. It was the only one in that color left, and a little more expensive than its black counterpart, but we wanted the blue one anyway. So we got it.

And now that we’ve had the permanent one for the living room for a few weeks, I can honestly say that I am a full convert now. And here’s why.

There’s a bit of “ceremony” with each play of a record.

You can’t just scroll through your digital catalog and start the music with the tap of a button. You have to very deliberately choose what you want to listen to, remove it from its sleeve, place it on the turntable, turn the player on, and place and drop the needle. While it’s not a complex process, it is a process, and it’s not something you just decide to do willy-nilly.

When you forget about the background music, it will eventually end.

This is a big one for me. Remember before, when I said that I don’t really like music because it’s difficult to get away from when someone else is listening to it? Well, a big part of that is because with CDs and mp3s, the player will oftentimes just keep going and going and going forever and ever until you (or someone else) eventually realizes that it’s still playing and turn it off. This isn’t the case with a record. With a record, you get about 5 songs – 20 or 25 minutes – max. Then it stops. It doesn’t stop spinning, but it stops playing when the needle gets to the middle of the record. And then you have to make a conscious choice to restart the music. This is perfect for someone who likes music in small pieces rather than as constant background noise.

Will likened it to the difference between watching a movie and turning the TV on in the morning and leaving it on in the background of you life until you go to bed each night. We are definitely “movie” people (we do watch TV shows, but we do so in a movie-like way, by choosing what to watch and when – thanks to streaming services – rather than being roped into the network schedules). Our TV spends more time off than on, and we like it that way. A record player is the same. You have to decide to listen to something. It’s not a medium that lends itself to constant, repeating tracks.

The musical choices are different.

This might be more of a con than a pro to some people, but not to us. The musical choices available when you listen exclusively (or almost exclusively) to vinyl, the choices are very different. Some of the new artists release their music on vinyl (I’ve seen Adele and Taylor Swift records in the record store, as well as David Bowie’s new release, among others), but not all of it. And there was a time in the 90s when, apparently, none of the music was released on vinyl. (That’s pure supposition on my part. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I’ve not seen any albums from that time frame in our searches.) Very little Christian music is available on vinyl.

But lots of music from the 60s, 70s, 80s, and earlier are available. So that’s what we mostly listen to these days. Some of our favorites that we’ve found and purchased used are Famous Marches of John Philip Sousa, The Nutcracker Suite, Rossini Overtures, and The Wizard of Oz soundtrack. These are things that you’d probably be pretty hard pressed to find on CD. Someplace like Amazon probably has them on mp3, but given a choice between Sousa and Adele, what would you choose? Most people would pick Adele. But that’s not necessarily the case with records. You choose things that you might not otherwise select if the choices were the same.

So, this is why we’ve given up on CDs and mp3s (for the most part). There’s a lot more I could (and will) write about the act of owning records, but this post is already pretty long, so I’ll save that for another day. 🙂

Blessings,

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TinyBeans

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Have you heard of Tinybeans? It’s like a photo sharing app, but without the requirement to share (like Instagram has).

I first heard about it in one of my emails from Mom365, the company that took Dragonfly’s hospital photographs. They sold it as simply a way to view those photographs on my phone. I thought that was a pretty cool idea, so I downloaded the app, and since I’ve become a bit more familiar with it, I’m finding that I like it more and more. Here are some of my favorite features:

The Calendar

Tinybeans encourages you to take at least one photograph per day in order to make sure you don’t miss any memories as your children grow. To aid in that, the photographs are arranged on a calendar rather than just in a “list” or “thumbnails.” The calendar format is nice because you can see at a glance exactly which days you have pictures from and which you don’t. This is very helpful if you intend to go back later and use your photos for anything – a gift for the grandparents or a family yearbook, for example.

The Reminder

Each evening at 6:00, if I haven’t taken any photos in my Tinybeans app yet, my phone chimes and reminds me to take at least one picture for the day. This reminder is good for days that are too busy with errands (and therefore not very “photogenic”) or too boring (when nothing “photo-worthy” happened). Even on those kinds of days, it’s nice to have memories.

Other Stuff

  • Besides being organized in a calendar format, Tinybeans allows you to mark who is in a specific photograph with just the tap of an icon (once you add in all of your children to your journal, that is).
  • You can add videos to Tinybeans, not just still pictures.
  • If you are a social butterfly who wants to share your photos and videos, it’s easy to do that as well, so long as the people you want to share with also have the Tinybeans app.
  • It’s free. Those are my favorite kinds of apps!
  • You can order gift items straight from the Tinybeans website that are comparably priced to the local digital photo services places. (In my case, a lot cheaper!) These include things like photo books, canvas prints, mugs, pillows, throw blankets, and many, many more.

I hope you’ll take a few moments to check out Tinybeans. It’s totally worth it!

Blessings,

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I’m not affiliated with Tinybeans in any way. I was not asked to write this post. In fact, Tinybeans doesn’t even know I exist. I’ve just discovered this app recently and thought it was really great, so I wanted to share about it all on my own.

Being Grateful

There’s so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, so I want to take a moment today to reflect on those things.

  • First and foremost, I’m thankful that Dragonfly has made a safe appearance. I had a lot of anxiety and bad dreams this time around, but it was all unfounded, thankfully. (I blame it on the time I spent reading pregnancy forums; a lot of those women went through things I’ve never experienced and can’t imagine.)
  • I’m thankful for my husband. I’m thankful that we share the same values. I’m thankful to him for working hard to make it possible for me to stay home with the kids. Without him, homeschooling and raising our kids ourselves (meaning, not putting them in public school or daycare) would be impossible. I’m blessed to have him for a partner.
  • I’m thankful for the rest of my family. The other boys have been a huge help with the baby. It’s nice to be able to leave him with one of them for a few minutes so I can do things like shower. Having older kids who can help with the younger ones are a true blessing.
  • I’m thankful for sleep. I’ve never had a newborn sleep as well as Dragonfly does, and it’s a wonderful thing.
  • I’m thankful for the ability to homeschool. I’ve said before (not necessarily on the blog, but in other writings) that homeschooling the boys is one of my biggest joys as a mother, and I truly mean that. I cherish having them – all of them – home with me during the days. I couldn’t ask for better kids, and I love getting to spend my days with them.
  • I’m forever grateful to my doctors (both my obstetrical surgeon and my family practice doctor). My overall pregnancy and delivery experience this time around was amazing (except for the bad dreams), and I credit my doctors for that. My obstetrical team was different this time than it was for any of the other three, and I honestly think that’s why my surgery and recovery went so much better than ever before. (When I first found out I was pregnant, my other doctor was on sabbatical, so I was assigned the other doctor in the practice. That turns out to have been a huge blessing.) I’ve even had my “substitute” doctor become Dragonfly’s main pediatrician rather than just sticking with the doctor who the other boys have used.
  • I’m thankful we have a nice home to live in. We rent, and I’m thankful for our landlords for providing us with a nice home that’s big enough for our family for a reasonable rent.
  • I’m thankful that we don’t have to worry about financial things (most of the time). I know we’re luckier than a lot of people in feeling comfortable and being able to pay our bills and make sure there’s always food on the table.
  • I’m thankful for friends. I’m glad we have such a supportive church family (two of them actually – long story). I’m glad my kids have friends in the neighborhood. I’m glad for the friends that Will and I have locally. And I’m thankful for all of my internet friends. I’ve never met some of you, but I consider you some of my closest friends.

I wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving. Remember to count your blessings, not just during this time of year, but every single day.

Blessings,

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A Baby Story: The Birth of Dragonfly

If you’d asked me a month ago whether or not I thought I’d have an interesting story to tell surrounding the birth of our fourth son, I would have said, “No.” Due to several reasons that I’ve discussed on the blog before, I had a scheduled repeat c-section. I figured it would be just like Small Fry’s birth: show up at the appointed time, get an IV, have a baby via surgery, go home four days later. Easy-peasy.

But sometimes babies have their own agendas.

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Yes, the birth was scheduled, both the date and time. And yes, he did arrive on the date scheduled. But the time? Nope. He had his own ideas for that.

I went to bed the night before feeling normal. Like labor wasn’t even going to be an issue. After all, I’d only ever gone into spontaneous labor once, and that was over 12 years ago with Seahawk. I wasn’t even sure I’d know what it felt like anymore if I did go into labor. But God knew that, so He made sure there was no mistaking it when it happened.

Wait, what? You went into labor with a scheduled c-section?

Yes. I woke up at 6:55, about 35 minutes before the alarm was scheduled to ring, with what felt like a tiny little drip flowing over me. I didn’t think too much of it and tried to go back to sleep. But I just couldn’t shake the feeling that that drip was significant. I couldn’t ignore it. So I got up to use the restroom, hoping not to see any blood when I was in there. Fortunately, there wasn’t any. There was, however, a big gush – just like in the movies – as soon as I stepped foot in the bathroom. Yes, my water had broken. There was no mistaking it, despite the fact that this had never happened to me before. How that gush “waited” until I was in the bathroom instead of the bedroom, I don’t know. But I’m glad it did. I’m even more glad that it didn’t gush in the bed.

Now that I knew that my water had broken, I immediately woke Will up, despite the fact that he would’ve been up within 30 minutes anyway. We (well, he) woke the kids up with a sense of urgency, and within half an hour, we’d gotten everyone ready (including packing the overnight bags) and were en route to my mom’s house since the boys were going to spend some time with her while I was in the hospital and Will was going back and forth between staying with me and doing book signings. (Seahawk is technically old enough to babysit, but we don’t like leaving him for more than an hour or two until we can get him into a safe babysitting course.) Once we dropped the boys off, we headed straight for the hospital. We arrived there less than an hour after my water had broken, and a full hour before our scheduled check-in time.

Once I was admitted, they paged my doctor and she came to check on me. She did a vaginal check for dilation, and confirmed that my water had indeed broken. I was at 2 centimeters, but contractions were coming fast and hard, so they called my surgeon to see if she wanted to move the surgery up. Upon hearing that I was in labor, she did want to get baby out as soon as possible. Because none of us knew what my internal scar tissue looked like, we didn’t really want me to labor too much to avoid the risk of uterine abruption. There was a chance that my scar tissue had healed beautifully and wouldn’t cause too much trouble. There was just as good a chance that the tissue would be stretched thin from pregnancy and on the verge of splitting on its own without even taking labor into account. So within about an hour and half of arriving at the hospital, I was in the operating room. The only reason it took even that long was because the rest of the staff forgot to notify anesthesia, who was expecting me at noon, not 9 a.m., so we had to wait for them to arrive. The anesthesia doctors arrived at around 9:35, and by 9:45 we’d begun.

Just like the last time I had a preplanned c-section, the anesthesia was the worst part. I always end up freaking out (internally only) while getting the spinal. The numbing shot just before the spinal hurts like a freak attack, but then it’s all smooth sailing from there. This time around, the doctor pushing all over my back to find the right spot was quite painful, too. Once the spinal was in, it worked very quickly. Within just a minute or two, I needed help getting my legs up onto the operating table so the real fun could begin. Once the spinal was in, they brought Will into the OR. It seemed to me that it took a long time for him to get there; part of me was worried that he wouldn’t make it. But he did, thankfully. The doctors and nurses got me all settled on the operating table, and then pulled up the blue curtain. Dr. S (my surgeon) did the anesthesia test to make sure I was fully numb, and then she got started right away. I couldn’t see the clock from my vantage point, but I think the first incision was probably made right around 10 a.m. Things were going very well. My anesthesiologist was excellent at staying by my side and keeping me informed as to what was going on and being a calming presence. Will was on my other side doing the same.

KIMG0092Dragonfly made his appearance at 10:19 a.m., an hour and 41 minutes before the surgery was originally scheduled to start. He cried immediately, which always makes me cry (happy tears) too. After some of the crazy dreams I’d had while pregnant with him, hearing his first cry was the best sound in the world to me. My doctors pulled the blue curtain down enough to show me his little face, but not enough for me to see my open guts. He looked so small to me! After I got a good glimpse at him, they pulled the curtain back up and invited Will over to the other end of the table to cut the cord. I was glad they offered him this opportunity. When Small Fry was born, he wasn’t give that chance (nor with Munchkin, but that was an emergency situation and therefore understandable), and I remember him mentioning his disappointment later. Once the baby was cleaned up a bit and swaddled, Will was able to bring him over for me to see better. The two of them stayed there for the remainder of the surgery. I couldn’t hold baby during that time – they didn’t offer me the chance, but I probably would have declined anyway because I didn’t feel in that moment that I could have done so safely – but it was nice to be able to touch his face while Will was holding him.

Closing me back up took about half an hour; by 11 a.m., I was back in my room for recovery and bonding. Baby nursed right away; he’s definitely a natural at it. I was in the hospital until around 11 a.m. on Monday, and definitely ready to go home by then. It feels good to be getting back into the swing of things – even if I have to move a little slow still.

Blessings,

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Homeschool Curriculum Plan ~ 2015-2016

When I wrote last week that we were only three weeks away from starting school and I didn’t have a clue what we were going to do, that kind of lit a fire under me to make plans. Preliminary plans, at least. So here’s what I’ve got.

Despite the fact that the boys are in different grades (Seahawk is starting 6th and Munchkin is starting 4th), we still do pretty much everything together. There are a few exceptions, but as a rule they do similar work. This will be changing just a hair this year. The courses will be the same, but since Seahawk is officially entering the middle school grades, he’ll have a bit more work. My goal with him over the next 2-3 years is to get him used to working more independently, and not balking at doing more work than his brother.

So rather than doing separate posts for our plan, I’m going to stick with just this one. Like previous years, we’ll be doing the same topics, but the scope and sequence will vary for each of the two of them. My goal this year is for us to attempt a more “notebooking” approach to schooling. I think the things I have/have chosen will be best using that approach. I’ll be purchasing spiral notebooks for each child – one per subject. Another thing I’m going to do color code those notebooks. I read this idea on another blog recently and I just loved it. For her children’s school supplies, she assigned each child a color, and then bought all the supplies for a particular child (pencils, erasers, notebooks, pens, scissors, etc) all in that color. That way, there’s no fighting over whose supplies are whose when it’s time for school. I thought that was absolutely brilliant, and I’m going to do it this year as well. As much as possible, anyway. Things like rulers (wood, not plastic) only come in one color, so those will match. I’ll put each child’s name on his ruler though.

One thing that we do a little bit differently than some other families. We school four days a week instead of five. This allows us one weekday (Mondays) to get errands done that simply can’t be done on the weekend (doctor’s appointments, banking, etc). I also found that having that third day off each week lessens the overwhelm and fatigue for all of us. Additionally, we’ll likely take a few weeks off in November and December for the birth of Dragonfly – and the holidays, of course.

So, what will we be studying this year? Here’s the list. It might change, especially as I discover things we might be reviewing as the school year progresses, but this is at least where we’re going to start.

Reading: Each day (seven days a week), the boys will be reading from a novel or non-fiction book at their grade level. Thanks to my subscription at Super Teacher Worksheets (there’ll be a review on that in the coming weeks), each book will have comprehension questions to go through as they read as well as a report due at the end.

Science: This will be done twice a week, and we’re going to use our subscription to Visual Learning Systems, which I reviewed earlier this year. We all really enjoyed that program, and it lends itself well to a notebooking approach of learning. We did Earth science during the review period, so I think we’ll move on to Life science as we begin the school year.

History: This will take place on the days opposite science. We’ll be using the Famous Men of Rome set that I reviewed earlier this year.

Spelling: Munchkin doesn’t need a spelling program; he spells well on his own. Seahawk, though, definitely needs to study the topic. We’ve tried a variety of programs in the past with varying degrees of success. This year we’re trying something new: The Phonetic Zoo from the Institute for Excellence in Writing. I’ve been so impressed with every single we’ve reviewed from them in the past that I have high hopes that this will be “the one” that finally helps him with his spelling. There will be a review of the program here on the blog in early- to mid-October, so make sure to look for that in a few weeks.

Grammar: I was so impressed with our use of IEW’s Fix It! Grammar The Nose Tree that we’ll be using the second book in the set for our grammar studies this year: Robin Hood.

Writing: I have a few different ideas for writing, so this is one subject where there will be a lot of flexibility. If we use an official curriculum, it will be the Student Writing Intensive from IEW that we reviewed a few weeks ago. If we go with just “write something,” we will likely use some of Hewitt Homeschooling’s My First Reports. For creative writing, my boys love just writing stories – they’re each in the middle of one right now – so I’ll let them continue writing on those.

Bible: I’m not sure what we’ll do here yet. We will either continue to use our Firmly Planted study or we will just read through the Bible together without an official study to go with it. Ideally, we’ll read from the Bible seven days a week, even if we don’t do an official study all of those days.

Math: Because we started using Great Parents Academy partway through the school year last year, and it was so much more comprehensive than our previous math program, the kids will finish up their “old” grades and then move straight into the new grades using the same program. They really liked it, and I liked how much they were learning. It’s a keeper for sure.

Unless otherwise mentioned, each subject will take place four days a week (Tuesday through Friday).

So that’s my plan. Have you started planning your school year yet?

Blessings,

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Five Random Things ~ August 14

5 random things

1. We’re only about 3 weeks from “back to homeschool” and I have no idea what the plan will be.

2. This week we were gifted a set of real-silver silverware from my mom and stepdad. It belonged to my stepdad’s mom before she passed (which was right after my mom and stepdad married, before I ever had a chance to meet her, so circa 1986). My mom guesses that it’s from the mid-50s when my stepdad’s parents first married. We will be using it as our main silverware. New flatware was on our list of things we wanted to get anyway, so this way we don’t have to spend the money, and it’s much better quality than anything we would have purchased for ourselves anyway.

3. I’ve been in a quilt-making groove recently. I’ll share some pictures sometime soon; I’m just waiting for Will to help me take photographs of them because he’s better with a camera than I am.

4. We went to the Farmer’s Market yesterday and got some delicious fresh peaches. 8 of them for $5. Yum!

5. Small Fry is really into drumming lately. I have to hide the pencils because he takes them and drums all over anything he can with them. At this rate, all of our pencils are going to have the lead all broken inside!

And a bonus random thought:

6. We recently switched away from ballpoint pens and started using fountain pens. I’ve never had much luck with a fountain pen in the past, until we tried this brand – Pen & Ink | Sketch. The pens are completely self contained (no dipping) and come with 3 disposable cartridges filled with ink as well as one refillable cartridge. So far, Munchkin, Will, and I each have one. Seahawk’s planning on getting one pretty soon, too (Munchkin bought his with his allowance money). It feels really nice in  your hand and writes as well as a ball point. I highly recommend them! (We paid $17.49 at the local art store, but they also have them on Amazon for a little under $10. We just didn’t want to wait for shipping, and also we wanted to support the local economy.)

Have a great weekend!!

Blessings,

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Hobo Spider Update

spider picture 2

If you read my Picture of the Week post last Friday, you’ll remember that we caught a large spider in the boys’ bedroom. The “monster” was crawling across Small Fry’s pillow as he was getting ready to change into his pajamas, and it caused the 3-year-old to scream in terror.

The next day, we took the creature to the county etymologist’s office. The official etymologist wasn’t working that day (Friday), so they kept the spider and said to come back on Monday. Well, the verdict was still out when we called to check in on Monday, so we went back in today (Wednesday) for the final explanation for the animal we’d caught. Turns out it wasn’t a hobo spider after all. It was just an oversize (read: older) common house spider. Nothing to be afraid of, outside of its enormity. While the spider was huge and frightening, I’m glad to know none of us were in any real danger.

And now the boys have a new bug for their collection of framed bugs. (The county extension office, where the etymologist works out of, killed the spider in a way that preserves it – by drowning it in rubbing alcohol. We just have to let it dry out a little bit now before we (well, Will and the kids) frame it.

Blessings,

ladybug-signature-3 copy

Turtle Quilt

I go back and forth among the crafty things I like to do a lot. I might spend several weeks (or months!) on, say, crocheting, and then switch to cross stitching, then quilting, then embroidery, then something else, and then back to crochet. It’s quite the cycle. Right now, I’m all about the quilting. But just a couple of weeks ago, I was really into embroidery. So I combined these two pursuits into one and made this crib quilt.

Embroidered turtle quilt with pieced blocks

Each of the white squares has a different embroidered turtle on it, and the patchwork squares are what’s called a “churn dash” block with a pinwheel in the center square instead of a plain square. I quilted it just using straight lines in a diamond pattern (though not a very good one since I didn’t draw the lines out in advance). I really prefer to use free-form quilting, but I haven’t been able to make that work on my current sewing machine, so until I can figure it out I’m stuck with straight lines. (For those of you who know anything about quilting, my problem is that a) my feed dogs don’t drop and b) the presser foot squishes the fabric too tightly, so there’s no maneuverability in there, even if I set the stitch length to 0, effectively disabling the feed dogs.) I read somewhere online recently that my sewing machine does, however, have an adjustable presser foot pressure, so I’ll have to explore that facet to see if I can get free-motion quilting to work for me.

Oh, and in case you can’t see the individual turtles very well, here are a few pics of them from my Instagram feed:

 

 

A photo posted by Wendy (@ladybugdaydreams) on

 

A photo posted by Wendy (@ladybugdaydreams) on

 

A photo posted by Wendy (@ladybugdaydreams) on

 

A photo posted by Wendy (@ladybugdaydreams) on

Blessings,

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