Thursday, August 31, 2006

Moment of Awareness

I had moments yesterday when I realized that my children have spent this summer growing and crossing over different development points in their lives. It was like the clouds over my eyes lifted for the day and oh my gosh - my girls have grown up.

MB at 6.5 (7 in december) is really, really a girl now. My child, whom I thought would end up in dred locks because of her absolute hatred of having her hairbrushed, now gets up and dressed (in an outft that matches) then spends 10 minute doing her hair. I find her during her downtime practicing dance moves in her bedroom - real dance moves, cheorographed danced moves she has learned from friends. Computer time is no longer Nick Jr and Dora the Explorer CD-Rom - its doing on-line mazes and watching movie trailers on Yahooligans. And, shh, we haven't had a meltdown in days.

K turns 4 in two weeks, but she will let you know that she is not three. And truly she is not a three-year-old. I imagine three as being an older toddler and young preschooler. She looks older than even four most times, the child is independent to the point where I wish she would ask for more help. And developmental clinginess that I sometimes relate to this age is absolutely unapparent. She dresses herself, as I am not allowed to help, with pretty good success. I absolutely loved the outfit yesterday - summer print shorts (tourqouise & pink), black and orange halloween t-shirt and most of the day a blue polka dot fleece hat. I don't know why outfits like this just tug at my heart but they do. The sense of individuality that they promise for the future. But to watch her yesterday in this outfit, sitting at the computer working independently on her "schoolwork" - just made tears come to my eyes.

EM has lost her 'babyfat' and developed her language to the point that we can carry on pretty good conversations. At four months shy of two, she has totally entered in to the whole "I do it myself" mentality. Sometime this summer she crossed over from being my baby to becoming my toddler.

And, it wasn't that just an awareness that the girls have grown up. It was one of those days that I can say "yes, we have made the right decisions. We are going on the right road for us." It wasn't a postcard homeschool day - but I can see it working. I really wish I could set up a hidden camera to catch these days so that I can share it with dh and other family members. The three girls sitting together and working on a mega block castle, A rousing game of Twister before we start the school day, MB and I curled up cracking jokes while we study Uranus, MB helping K understand patterns and helping her to make patterns with stickers for K's math, watching the caterpillar work on its chrysalis/coccoon, science kits spread out across the kitchen table, EM calmly playing with her stacking blocks or scribbling on paper (like her sisters), the sound of K playing actual songs on her lap harp. Of course I have pulled the high points from the day - but still. It was messy, it was loud and there was no schedule and no homeschool 'method' at work. I loved it.



Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Rest, Water, Rest

I have come to the belief that false labor is a huge misnomer. It is not false, it is not painless and having actually had the complications of pre-term labor - twice and premature rupture - once, it is mentally exhausting. I generally get to the 34 week mark before it hits, but hey my uterus is primed and ready - it knows what to do at this point. So here I sit, at 32 weeks, and it has started. Thankfully I've been here. I am not freaking out as much as I did with the first two, but it is still literally a big pain.

Every afternoon around 3-4pm it starts, and I know it is because I have been going all day - even though I am trying very hard to get off my feet every 30 minutes or so. I drink enough water that I could rise the Titanic and basically have to 'go' after each "contraction." My main goal at this point is to get everyone to 7pm alive and to try to get some form of food on the table. Once those two goals are met I try very hard to move to a nest on either the sofa or the bed and just generally keep an eye on things.

We are spending much more time reading together, since there really isn't anything else to occupy my time in the evening. K has fallen in love with Robert McCloskey's Make Way For Ducklings and I have just about memorized that story. MB and I are reading through How To Eat Fried Worms because she wants to go see the movie and I told her we had to read the book first. Since it is above her reading level, she helps me while I do most of the reading. But, for every chapter I read she has to read me a chapter out of one of her library books. We made a 'pinky promise' and everything, so that is going well.

Other entertainment around our house this week has been an $8 electricity science kit I picked up. Give MB a couple batteries, some wires, a few alligator clips, a small light bulb and buzzer and she will entertain herself for hours. OOOh what cheap Christmas presents I could devise. She and K are even working on a plan to build a mega block castle and have lights and doorbells.

We also have a new caterpillar, I have never seen one these colors and need to look it up. K has decided that this is her caterpillar and is using all of her 'maternal' instincts in the care of it. I just have to be careful that she doesn't 'maternal' it to death.

So that covers reading and some science. Math is progressing - for both. I am thinking more and more of just selling the Saxon stuff I picked up earlier this summer. MB really likes her Horizons workbooks over the Saxon stuff - and shoot her 1st grade Book 2 is more challenging than what we have covered in Level 3 so far. Latin is moving slowly, I think it will pick up some speed as we all get more used to it. She still seems excited by it, but can only absorb and do so much in one day. We now only have two more planets to study in the Solar System, thanks to the Astronomers High-Council (or whatever it is called), before we move into Earth Science for the whole next year. History-wise the Mesoamerican study is about as interesting to MB as any history has been so far, which isn't saying a lot.

K and I have settled into a routine of doing Rightstart Math 3 days a week and TOPGTR 4 days a week. So, far she is breezing through and I definetly feel like I am getting that look: "mom, why are you asking me all these stupid questions?" But, I am learning with MB not take anything for granted - so we are moving through each and every lesson - even if it only takes us 5 minutes.

Okay, enough rambling. Em is awake and wanting breakfast.



Monday, August 28, 2006


We were supposed to go to the beach this past weekend to celebrate my dad's b-day. We did not make it, at the last minute I decided that we needed to stay home this weekend. There were things that needed to be taken care of before we took our household on the road. My parents understood and we will be heading down this coming weekend instead.

One of the things with my husband and I is that we are not big conversationalist. We have never been. The most comfortable thing about our relationship since the beginning is that we never felt the need to have a conversation just to entertain each other. We could each go off and do our own thing and then come back to center and everything was great. We match in this regard. We had our conversations, but it wasn't the be all and end all.

Fast foward to several children later, a full-time job, homeschooling, chauffering to and from activities, and suddenly there are no more conversations at all. There is no time. Words, phrases are spoken to each other only for the need to relay information. Topics for conversation get shuffled back to the recesses of the mind for later, when there is more time, when I have more energy, etc.

Without the conversation we lose touch with who our partner is, what changes are occuring in him/her. Major decisions are made by one because we don't have time to double check with the other. I have never thought that I needed these conversations, you know just put the kids to bed and sit and talk about the day, political occurrences, etc. But, if we can't talk about those things then how can we talk about the big things like, family finances and personal feelings.

Summer is the most stressful season for us. DH works two jobs during the summer and is busy at both, I tend to be traveling with the kids from one family member to another. When we do see each other, both of us are so burned out by conversations with other people that we just can't get in gear to give each other anything on that front. So, can we just say that conversation in our household had taken a backseat to summer time life.

We took the weekend off from family engagements and we tried to jump start our communication again this weekend. We untangled some cross communications and made some committments to each other. We also managed to find someone to watch all three of our kids and made it out to a nice sit down dinner. Something we will not be able to do again in the near future.

But, we also learned that conversation isn't just nice entertainment. It's necessary.



Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Planning for Fall

Earlier this summer I spent time and made up one of my relaxed, pseudo-plans for our curriculum and so on. It was kind of a jolt knowing realizing that I wasn't homeschooling just one this year, but two. Well, this past month it has been extracurricular activities and with a lot of big decisions for us to make. Because, we don't have to fund time and money for just one anymore, now there are two. Pretty soon I will be needing to purchase one of those big white board calendars where everyone has their own color - yeah, right.

Physically and financially we just could not see continuing to keep MB in a competitive gymnastics track for the fall. They wanted to bump her up to three nights a week, and she is already complaining about the two. She wanted to play soccer again which would be another evening plus Saturday mornings. And, we had to start thinking about K, who gets shuttled around to everything, but rarely gets to participate. It was looking more and more like I should become certified as a taxi driver and we needed to plan for another loan on the house.

So, after discussions with, well everyone, this is our game plan for the extras:

MB - Intermediate Gymnastics - 1 night per week
Soccer - 1 night per week, plus Saturday games
Homeschool Choir

K - Beginner Piano Lessons - 1 hr per week
- Homeschool Choir
She chose to drop gymnastics so we are going to look at our community resources for little, fun preschool sporty programs to fill in here or there.

We also have our weekly homeschool science coop that both will participate in.

I think this is enough for right now. We will fill in with field trips as we can. And, after junior arrives my mom will be taking on some of the homeschooling duties for me for a little while. I do feel so very blessed that i have a mom who supports what we do so strongly. I don't feel that much fear about missing too much in October/November.

Well, today we get to spend most of the day here at the house, so I am actually going to see what I can accomplish. I am going to try very hard to stay away from the computer.



Monday, August 21, 2006

Whistle While You Work

I have not been AWOL. I just picked up a very fast turn-around job an spent every early morning and evening focused on getting it done as quickly as possible. So, computer time has been limited, cleaning time has been limited and finishing the b-day cross-stitch project has been limited. But, what I managed, proudly, not to limit was the time I focus on the girls.

One of the reasons I go back and forth so much about working from home and trying to increase the number of contracts I pick up each year is that I become way to absorbed in the projects. I get the project and totally sink into 'working woman.' Working woman isn't bad. She is great for her client. But Working woman goes to bed at night feeling guilty and wondering what she has missed during the day. Working woman is the reason I decided to give up the full-time job and be home.

But, this time I did manage to a great degree of success to put the project on the backburner everyday while my kids eyelids were open. I will tell you it was easier to complete the project that way then have at least two kids hanging on my leg and tugging me away from the computer.
But, while I enjoyed the project - it was easy and using my creative marketing skills that are growing rusty, I did come to the realization that it is still not time to build a new business, it is not time to go out and hunt down new work. Well duh, you are due in like 2 months! True the money would be nice, but the children are at the age where flexibility is required, and a deadline really puts a cramp on that. So - four more years, maybe five. I'll keep plugging away doing my work for my 'special' clients that I only have to worry about every few months.

What else is going on? Well we have had some really good pantry meals! I love not going shopping so often. We don't have something in the frig, freezer or pantry - then we are not eating it. And, we are eating so much better! And because I know what we have an are willing to put a little effort into it, we actually have treats. Last night mommy had chocolate cravings, and viola MB helped me make a batch of fudge with three ingredients that I almost always have on hand - chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk and vanilla extract. I got my fix and we have treats to last us at least a week. Just think about what a candy bar, times three of us for 5 days would cost. (no, we do not eat candy bars everyday and no we don't keep a lot of treats around the house, generally. But, every now and again they are fun to have.)

Uh-oh, starting to hear rustling from the other end of the house. Have a great day!



Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Better write fast

MB has returned to us and life will, I guess eventually begin to take shape again. She returned Sunday afternoon, with my mother who stayed until this morning. We took yesterday as a field trip day and went to visit The Museum of Life and Sciences, which I have a membership to, but have yet to visit this entire summer. They had even opened the new wildlife/wetlands section and we just had not been.

The trip was very good, and it was nice to not have a 'baby' for a change. Em really enjoyed going, she loved the butterfly house and watching the 'fly-flies' as she calls them. The train ride scared her, as it did my mom and I. Never have we ridden that thing so fast, do not know what the hurry was. Em walked alot, although we had the stroller there. By the end I wanted to be the one riding in the stroller.

This morning we are trying to get back on our schedule. Housework this morning, I have gotten the floor swept and vaccumed, 2 loads of clothes washed - one on the line outside, dishwasher emptied and the beds made. MB pulled out the sharks teeth and shells that she collected at a museum down east with my mom. Then the microscope came out and she has been examining cheek samples from all of us, including the dogs.

K and Em are doing a little parallel play with the blocks, and I am trying for a change to actually get on the computer to do some 'house paperwork.'



Thursday, August 10, 2006

Laying Low

With MB gone and visiting family, our need to be out of the house has reduced dramatically. And, I am enjoying it. I can't really admit that anything grand is actually getting done. I am working on a cross-stitch project for a family member's birthday with lots and lots of shading. Who knew there were so many shade of white and light beige. The side beneft is that very little money is getting spent on things just because we are out and it is easier.

K has been in Magic School Bus heaven. Watching and re-watching the videos whenever I let her. We have been able to read together the specific books she wants to hear and just let her play with all her Little People toys that she is thrilled to have out of storage. Yesterday afternoon she had a whole medieval village going spread out on her bedroom floor. And in the bathroom ahe had made a water park out of plastic containers for Barbie to play in. Her imagination process is really, really fun to watch and be a part of.

Last night, though, she started asking when we were going on a field trip again. To K, a field trip does include trips to the grocery store, library or whatever other errands we need to do. I guess it is time to get her out of the house. We have a pile of stale bread waiting on a trip to the lake to feed the ducks - so we will probably do that today. The library would be nice to, but EM has a screaming fit everytime we walk through the doors so that will wait until this weekend we daddy can be home.

Speaking of little EM who is getting bigger everyday, it is time that I at least pull out the little potty and have it as bathroom decor again. A few times this past week I have found her sitting on the big potty, fully dressed and diapered, smiling like she is the best thing. Diapers have to be covered with a pair of shorts, otherwise I find the diaper laying somewhere else in the house. She is also only allowing me to change her diaper standing up - that's fun since I can barely bend over. Anyway, I will let her potty train herself, but I refuse to get frantic about it since we really only have a couple of months before junior arives.

Junior is doing great. I had another ultrasound on Tuesday as a follow-up to our first at about 19weeks. That one had a shadow on it that they wanted to re-check later in the development process. I never really got it, but basically the doctor told us that it is something that can show up at certain points of development, generally not something to be concerned about. Anyway, everything is okay!! We did find out that he takes after his daddy's side and has a huge head, measured two weeks larger than the rest of his body. In the ultrasound picture I have you can even see how big this head is. My mother was so-o-o-o sympathetic - "it's not like its your first child"

The biggest blow was being told that it is time to start every other week appointments. I am not ready for this yet. Except for the nursery, which we are still using and the crib which we are finally not using, we have nothing. Infant clothes - nada, because "of course three is enough and we are not having anymore. take those clothes to Goodwill." So, we have a crib, baby blankets and car seat. I need a bassinet, diapers and baby sleepers. I want a new sling - I hate my old one as it is so bulky. I really need some time to start trolling the thrift stores and childrens re-sell shops again. I also need to start cutting some cash out of each paycheck to pay for these things.

Time to head on with the day.



Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Who wants to see old pictures??

Well, a month ago I promised pictures from our trip to the beach. I finally found my cord to connect the camera and computer. So, I am ready to go.

These are the girls preparing for the 4th of July parade in my dad's neighborhood. Notice, how MB so conviently covers my step-niece's face so I can use this picture.

This is the sound that is about a block from Dad's house. Across the sound, and the high-rise bridge, is Atlantic Beach. The girls love to go an play at the sound because they can walk out on several sandbars, dig for crabs and shells along the shore line and get in the water without large waves crashing over them.

EM loves the water. At the sound she would go and lay down right in the surf. At the pool we have to keep an extra close eye on her because she will dive right out of her floaty.

This is K in the pool. She has done well this summer. She will put her head all the way under, blow bubbles and kick her feet. But, but she will not leave the steps and screams if anyone tries to touch her. We decided that maybe swimming lessons would not go so well this summer for her.

I have very few pictures of MB. She just doesn't stay still enough for us to get pictures anymore.

That was our trip in July. Pretty much the highlight of our summer so far.


K loves her hermit crab. She takes it out to play, making these elaborate out-of-cage homes for the crab using her little people paraphinalia. Last night after she had gone to bed I got the biggest chuckle when I went into the girls' bathroom.

She had set the crabs up so that they could read while they were awake during the night. (The crabs overnight in the bathroom because they are nocurnal)

The reading material she choose for them:



Saturday, August 05, 2006

Quick trip - not painless

I took the girls down to the beach to visit my family yesterday. MB is staying with my mom for the week and attending a science day camp. We were going to spend the weekend visiting before I came back on Monday. That was the plan anyway.

The girls bickered and teased each other the entire way down there. We had to stay at my mom's house because my dad's is being renovated and they are living in the extra apartment right now. Mom's house is small, and step-father gets a little testy with noise that children make. Not a great set-up all around.

I get to the house with a raging headache, the temp is near 100, with heat indices much higher. Inside my mom's house feels like an oven (even with the ceiling fans going), she has sweat dripping down her face. I ask why she isn't running the ac, and she goes to check the thermostat and it is set at 87 (by my SF). This is one of my pet peeves - the house is my mother's and she pays every utility bill, yet SF complains if she runs the ac. Of course this is the man that puts on long underwear when the temps hit 50. Anyway, I tell my mother that SF can get over it because I am pulling the pregnancy card. So SF and I spend all of friday night doing a little dance changing the thermostat.

The girls continued arguing over this and that. They never could, each, find their own personal space without someone else barging in. We tried to take them swimming, but on the way over a thunderstorm blew in. Which they were upset about. Bedtime was a nightmare, K and MB argued over sharing the full-size bed, which led to MB getting a good size bump on the side of her head, and me having to go to W*lm*rt at 10:30pm on a friday night during tax-free weekend for children's pain reliever. When I got back EM had managed to escape from the port-a-crib for the third or fourth time and my mom had given up. EM continued to get up about every 2 hours all night long.

This morning they all woke up whiny and if possible in even more sour moods. And finally after yet another sisterly squabble, I packed the two younger ones up in the car and we came home.

Ahhh, home. It sure felt good to get back here.



Thursday, August 03, 2006

I am never going to be one of those homeschool moms. You, know the ones that are super-organized, the house is always ready for the white glove test (our house doesn't even pass the white shirt test), every child ready and attentive at the school table at a certain time.

I have figured out that on the days that I become obsessed with the house, the girls end up taking a certain initiative with their own learning. At the end of the day I look around the house, and, hopefully, I can see my accomplishments for the day. But there is that nagging voice within me, "So, what did the girls do today? What new thing did they learn?" Okay, they do learn something everyday. But, some days I don't want the public to know what they learned - kwim.

The other days it becomes all about the school. The more exciting, and enthralling it is - the more our house looks like a level 3 disaster area. I can't see or show what has been accomplished that day - but my heart knows it.

I am learning to just live. Do what I can, what needs to be done for sanitary, health reasons. There are days it is good to forget the textbooks and the lesson plans, and let life be the teacher. Just as there are days it is fine to forget about the kitchen until all the little ones are in bed, so that they can see how important they are to me. Of course, here soon, I will probably be in that phase of life where very little gets done, except a lot of nursing.

Monday, we had a "good" school day. Checked off that list - yeah, way to go.

Tuesday, we had a so-so day. MB did a few things at K's gymnastics class. K and I did a few informal things. Then we just vegged, the heat dragging on us.

Wednesday, I just got so sidetracked with household stuff and the neighborhood children were over - school just kind of went out the window. It perked up a little bit in the afternoon when the vet came by in his 'mobile' vet clinic and did Ginger's spaying. He gave my girls and the neighborhood children a tour of his 'office.'

Today we are meeting our homeschool group for a swim at a friend's neighborhood pool. Then I need to do a few things around the house before we leave, again, tomorrow. Back to the beach to drop MB off at mom's house for a week. MB's education next week will be provided by the environmental/ecology day-camp she is going to attend.

I could spend the time next week, working on an organizational/time-management chart for us. But, really, why waste my time. I know I won't stick to it. I know that life will take over, my children will demand, and get, autonomy in their educational path. I guess I am getting comfortable with this blend we are creating. It just doesn't look like anyone elses', and it is not supposed to. That makes it slightly uncomfortable for me. I don't have anyone else forging the path in front of me. Am I an educational slacker or a whip carrying headmistress? Or am I both? (Before anyone flames me for either of those two decriptions - just let me say I see value in both unschooling and structured home-ed. I just struggle with the two ends of the spectrum, personally neither feels comfortable for us). The problem is I don't know where the path is taking us - where we are going to end up. The journey is great fun, but we have determined our destination yet. Without a destination in mind, I feel as though we are meandering. And, maybe, at the age of my children meandering is fine. I just don't know.

Okay, enough homeschooling free-thought writing.

I have set myself up some goals for this months - one of which is to plan our birthday/christmas giving for this fall. Yesterday, I got a gift from my mom. She used to do a lot of cross stitch, but because of her arthritis she hasn't been able to do much. I am going to be the recepient of her huge collection of supplies. So, some people on our gift list will be getting a few simple corss stitch gifts this year. Yeah on the cost.

Time to feed the masses



Tuesday, August 01, 2006


I just checked weather bug for our area, and that is the current temp. The temperature our thermostat was set for: 80. The temp that our interior got stuck at today: 82. I gave up and reset the thermostat for 82 so the ac would stop running for a little while. We have this awesome tower fan in the den and it is really working to keep the den/office area cool. So, that is where we are hanging out.

Everytime I have gone outside today I have gotten nauseas from the heavy air. I have to go back out at least one more time today to take MB to gymnastics. Hopefully DH will go get her this evening.

We have gotten most of our school work done today. Nothing special or exciting. It is too hot to be exciting. We got our work done and just decided to be lazy. Of course lazy for me just means running herd on the toddler. My kitchen floor has gotten towel mopped twice already today from spilled water from the dogs' water dish. MB and K both chose to take cool baths for their quiet time. Entertains and relaxes.

Some inroads have been made towards our 'simple' goals today. On the way to K's gymnastics this morning we dropped off two bags of clothing, a box of unused cookbooks (those really fancy ones that I never buy the ingredients to make anything out of), and a box of children's toys. I am slow-cooking half a roast from our freezer to use for dinner tomorrow night (mexican shredded beef and rice). Tonight's dinner is going to be a chicken and rice meal that is cooked in the microwave so I don't have to use the oven today.

My poor garden is miserable this year. I am really going to have to do some research this winter and figure out what to do out there. Unfortunately most of our soil needs major amendments to make it grow anything but weeds. Our 'garden' is a raised bed, and after this year it needs to have a new batch of dirt added. Other areas of our yard would be good for growing some things (sunlight, space) but the soil is horrible. I am thinking of doing some container gardening in those areas, at least for the next year. I am going to get some blueberry bushes, but am going to keep them in containers in case we do move.

Gotta go get children motivated to get ready to go.

Stay cool and peace,

A family of six living and learning. You might catch us outside in the mud or working on crafts. We always seem to be on the go, come on and join us.