Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Fun in the Sun

Do you ever feel a need to get closer to the earth? Experience a little grit, sweat, adventure? Our lives are so comfortable (which I'm so grateful for) that sometimes I crave a little . . . connection with nature. I want to do things - adventurous, sporty things. Horseback riding, river rafting, camping, hiking, skiing etc. I guess I just want to disconnect from everything high tech and modern for a bit and use my muscles (if they haven't atrophied under my lazy flesh) and find a challenge with the outdoors. I have become an indoor girl - and I never wanted that. I think I will tell Sergeant we should do something different this anniversary. Skip the expected luxurious hotel stay and have some raw fun.
This year I will make an effort fulfill this desire and show it as a value to my children.
(Negotiator will be so sad.)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

My little man is a little man

My oldest is now 6! 6!! I can't believe it. And that weird melancholy feeling has been hanging around lately. On his actually birthday we made a cake and gave him our presents (just our family) and he thought that was wonderful. Then, that night I pulled out his baby album to show him how little he once was and since then I've had a pit in the middle of my stomach. This strange, uncomfortable nostalgia has been looming about. I just don't get it. I saw those pictures and my heart broke. My baby is gone. I have no desire to go back to that time but I'm still sad that it's gone. Like I said - very strange.
On Saturday we had his party - a trip to the mini grand prix. The kids had a blast!!! The adults too. Sergeant and I might even return for date night sometime. I beat everyone on the race track. By a couple laps!!! They all swear I had an unusually fast car - but I definitely enjoyed the moment. I'm normally not very successful at these things.
We left Beauty Queen home with my mom to get dinner ready. So we returned with a group of exhausted children to a feast topped off with a cookie cake and presents. I got Alex his first cap gun and shocked the grandparents. I was never against toy guns, I just tried to hold off for as long as possible. But now I have a feeling I've opened the flood gate of toy weaponry. oh well, instead of the Lego guns and swords made of vacuum parts - they'll just have more realistic props. Boys seem to come into the world with an understanding/need of aggression and destruction. In the end, the cowboy pistols were his favorite. See. My little baby who used to let me eat his feet and blow on his stomach is now a six shooter. sigh.
Okay, two things I will always remember about the Negotiator this year . . .
1. how he amazed me with our first year of homeschooling. He really is brilliant and working with him reminds me how everything I do will affect him forever.
2. his desire to make others laugh. He's growing into quite the clown and will do anything silly to make his family and peers giggle. From funny faces to silly dances and crazy sayings he will go to all lengths for a smile.

My heart aches for his little baby face wrapped up like a little burrito, but I'm also looking forward to watching him grow more and more. He is an amazing gift and I'm grateful to know him.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

What a difference a year makes

The Negotiator is the proud parent of three beautiful butterfly's! We ordered some caterpillars from our science curriculum a couple weeks ago and they have been sitting in a little clear plastic cup on the counter. We watched as they grew bigger and bigger and then hung from the ceiling and made a cocoon. The kids find this highly fascinating. We also bought a little cardboard house for them and shortly after we transferred the extremely smelly cocoons, the butterfly emerged. I'm sure the neighbors could hear their shouts of glee and excitement. They look at them almost on the hour and Negotiator feeds them watermelon. Moose informs me that we cannot touch their wings or they will not be able to fly, but the sparkle in his eye speaks of his true desire to reach in a test it. Or rip their wings off. It was a great science project - but I'm very happy to get them out of my kitchen now! I think we'll release them in the next day or two. And then get rid of our pea plants too. Maybe I'll see the counter again.

The end of the school year is approaching. Well for most homeschoolers. I had the brilliant idea to keep more of a year 'round approach so as not to have to spend a month on review before the next level. But now, I wish I had planned for a long summer break. Anyway, my fellow homeschool mothers at church are looking into next year's curriculum and that sense of overwhelm and indecision is at my back again. This year I'm thinking of mixing it up. I'm going to buy sections of a couple different programs and customize my own. This of course means more work for me. Right now I like the language arts of Sonlight, the history,geography and science of My Father's World and Math-U-See. Sonlight has served us well this year, especially all the rich literature my 5 year old has been introduced to and writing habits, but I love the way MFW centers everything around the bible and has great projects and activities that bring history to life. I've met third graders at church who used this and can identify right away where text books contradict the bible and then know how to investigate. These kids know the scripture way better then I do even. I just can't even imagine how much easier my life would be today had I been taught that way. And then the math I'm using is great so why change it? We've already completed almost 2 yrs of curriculum. Negotiator is a little math whiz.

I'm so happy we decided to homeschool. I could never send them to public school knowing what I know now. Sergeant, who was skeptical at first, has now said we will do this as long as possible. I'm not sure how we'll handle high school but he won't even let me think of quitting before that. Even on our harder days, its way better then the alternative. At the beginning of the year I was so nervous and worried that I wouldn't do it right, but God has shown me such blessing. What was I so worried about? No one else loves them or knows them like I do so they won't care to get it right as much as I do either. As the end of the year is approaching I am excited about continuing and much more confident. It is by far the hardest yet most rewarding thing I've ever done. And I never would have done it had we stayed in WI. God 'moves' me in so many ways.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Am I coming or going?

Wow. What a busy weekend. Friday the boys had a dentist appt in the morning - which they did great at and then spent the afternoon with Meena while I tried to rush through grocery shopping. I think I am the slowest shopper in the world - no joke. I even frustrate myself. My plan is to fly through and just grab the most needed items and I ALWAYS end up browsing for things I have no business looking at (I physically can not pass a clearance isle without a little peek) and then reading nutrition labels and comparing prices and just basically wasting so much time. I think my fastest trip is like 2 hours. And that is hard for me. Crazy, I know. I really think it might be a disease or genetic abnormality.
Anyway, then I raced home to unload, went to picked up the kids, came back home to pack for our first sleepover. Then to our friends house for a LONG night of fun.

My friend from homeschool and church invited the boys to sleep over since her husband was out of town and she wanted to surprise her boys with something fun. Our kids are almost the exact same age and get along really well. But since she was alone I offered to go and help which ended up being great! Sergeant understood how much I needed to have a girls night and didn't mind at all that we ditched him for the night. I think he enjoyed a night of peace and quiet. Well this was a treat for the kids for sure! For a flexible person like myself I do maintain a pretty rigid bedtime setup. So for that to be completely thrown out the window thrilled the boys to no end. They got to stay up as late as they wanted and sleep anywhere they wanted and eat treats galore. We had so much fun making forts out of couches, movies, dinner, treats, the kids playing and of course us yakking. No one went to bed until 1am. Needless to say the kids were dragging and very cranky in the a.m.

We had to leave early in the morning to get the Negotiator home, fed, and to our tee ball game. I thought for sure he wouldn't be into it due to the party the night before, but he did really well. He hit hard, ran hard and paid close attention to the coaches direction. Then Aunt B offered to take the kids so the Sergeant and I could have a date. So to make up for leaving him the night before I agreed to go out on the bike. He loves that. Then after lunch and naps for all we dropped the kids at their second home, and explored a little more of Vegas. He took me through the Valley of Fire state park. It was really pretty and ends around Lake Mead. 160 miles. I actually enjoyed it. I don't think I'd like to go ALL day like they do but a few hours is okay. occasionally. After, we went to Red Rock for dinner and a movie. It was fun. Sometimes we forget how much fun we have together. We get a lot more alone time now that we are close to family and have someone to watch the kids sometimes, but its still surprises me how much we really do enjoy each other. I know that sounds strange. Its just fun to step out of work/parent mode and date again. I guess Vegas isn't all that bad.

Sunday we slept through church. Darn it. I hate when that happens, but it was nice to sit still for awhile. Then we BBQ'd dinner with the family. ------- I'm wiped. So are the kids. They were in complete meltdown by bedtime.

This week is another busy one. I better go shower and get started.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Bitter-Sweet Farewell

Well, its official. I'm a full-fledged soccer mom. Not actual soccer but various other activities are eating up my days. And for a home-body like myself this is a big deal. I pride myself on my ability to get everything that needs to be done in as few trips out as possible. But now I'm all over the place every day of the week. Well, mentally I'm no stranger to wandering, but my physical location is usually pretty steady. Look out, my insanity is now on the move. Maybe I should get one of those yellow warning triangle signs "Beware: Crazy Soccer Mom at the wheel" oh brother. . .

Anyway, today was swim day. And Beauty Queen had her first lesson. A promise I made as a reward to successful potty training. And Hallelujah! She did it a couple months ago! Diapers are officially a thing of the past. Whew. I used to dream about this day.

Oh, I forgot to mention - I decided to give all the characters in my life and that I will be writing about in this blog - cyber names. More because I've been lurking around other blogs and notice its a trend then for security reasons. Seeing as how I've referred to everyone by name in the past I don't know that it will do much good, but I do think its cute so I'm contributing my own silly cast.
My oldest child will be dubbed "The Negotiator" because he's a five year old who can close a deal like a seasoned pro.
My middle boy is "Moose." We've called him that since he was an infant and it just fits him. He's so cute I could eat 'im!
My daughter, because she is concerned with all things girly and beautiful is my little "Beauty Queen." Long hair, sparkly jewelry and dresses are her business.
And my dear husband shall now be referred to as "Sgt" - a former Marine, I usually call him by our last name but that would defeat the purpose here.
All other family will receive their new names as they come up in my postings.

As I was saying . . . Beauty Queen had her first lesson today. And as I was watching her I was struck at how big she is getting. Now, anyone who has known me since I had her knows that I've never been that sentimental or sad to see them growing up. Mostly because when you spend most of your life exhausted you don't mind the thought of a future where the people in your life don't need you to wipe their butt or keep them from choking or spoon feed them or lug their endless amount of crap everywhere. In fact you even begin to live for that point in time where a night of interrupted sleep from crying babies is rare and car seats don't rule your life (and change your personality from the frustration of installation). But as I was watching, I experienced a strange emotion. At least to me. It was a little melancholy and sad. It hit me completely unexpected and it hurt. My youngest isn't a baby anymore. I don't have a baby anymore. I made it. I survived these early years. And though it was wonderful and filled and overflowing with unexplainable joy it has also shown me depths of myself I didn't before know or care to know - those places of anxiety and depression, guilt and self-doubt, over-flowing impatience and selfishness - and yet I found myself a little sad to know its behind me. Why? What is that? Before kids I thought quite highly of myself. Yeah, I was human and made mistakes like all other humans but overall I was pretty good. But now I know. Now I know that there is sin and dark, dark ugliness in me just under the surface. If motherhood has taught me one thing its that I absolutely need Jesus. That woman that I met in the middle of the night after thirty minutes of sleep and meeting the constant stream of needs being literally screamed at her could not have found it in her to nurture anyone without the love of Christ. Maybe that's why. Maybe I miss it because what happened in those days was important. The worries and fatigue passed but the bonds with my children started with those hard moments and my understanding of Grace really began. And I have a feeling it will become even more precious as the years go by.

So goodbye Diaper Age. My heart can't help but remember you fondly and with strange longing.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Scheduled insanity would be better

Its now wed. Three days after our return from CA and I'm still not back on track! Whenever we go out of town I feel like I've left the planet and it takes an amazing amount of time for me to regain my equilibrium. I'm all emotionally Topsy-turvey and in a battle with schedule vertigo. If I find it in me to make plans, I'm facing a different direction when the time comes time to follow through. But this is just silliness - today I am accomplishing what I purpose to do. And that's that.

I have managed to make dinner every night this week. Something I haven't been doing for months. That's a start. Yesterday we had Sabrina and her kids over for dinner and I think the boys were very grateful. They seem to go into withdrawals with out at least a biweekly meeting with the cousins. Those kids are so close, they really are more like siblings. Which is kind of cool. I remember wishing I had cousins my age when I was young. But I left a huge mess for myself last night and its staring at me today. If I could just fight through the exhaustion and clean up a little before bed our mornings would be so much more pleasant. I recently made myself a new daily schedule and things were going pretty well until the long weekend. It took a total of three days to send me straight back into my old ways. My weakness is always just under the surface. I'm so grateful God gives me a new start every morning.

I have recently been very interested in the life of that AMAZING woman on Jon and Kate plus 8. People often talk of the inspiration or encouragement they gain from certain songs or music or whatever and I never quite understand how they get so much from just another famous person. But now I do. That woman inspires me. Truly. Whenever I start to get stressed or feel like losing myself to the circus, I think of her dealing with eight demanding little people always underfoot - and I know that if someone can endure that everyday and still want to live the day at its fullest - surely I can handle whatever my three have in store. And I really admire people who are so organized like that. I try to be, but often fall just a little bit short of gaining complete control. I can get things organized and put together but scheduling is different. I am an easily (emphasis added) easily distracted person so anything can through me off track. A phone call, a spill, and crazy paranoid mom thought (you know like when you see a lump on your child's neck, it can go from a swollen gland from the ongoing cold to a tumor in a matter of seconds) , an invitation to do something more fun, and sudden need to re-arrange the furniture, etc. all can change my well planned day into unproductive chaos. How my husband puts up with me is one of God's wonders. I seem to too often go where my mind will take me. As result, dinner is late and chores pile up. Still he remains very encouraging and believes I get to the things that are important. I try to be on top of things but I guess its my creative, right-brain that gets in the way. I'm way too much of a scatterbrain to be that ridged. But I'm good at impromptu projects, like suddenly painting a room, rearranging the house, or art projects for the kids.
Anyway, my goal is to find more of a balance between the two. I want to get my chores done yet still go with the flow of what the day brings. I think the key is in getting up early. Or at least earlier.
And maybe leaving the furniture where it is.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Sour Face Ann

So I guess old habits beat new technology. In the past, I've often started new journals (old fashion diaries - remember those?) every time I wanted to renew my commitment to journaling. And in the same fashion, today I am starting a new blog. Not just a new post but a whole new url. I feel in need of a fresh start. A new commitment. And because I love Rachel's blog so much and find it so inspiring I chose this place. Starting over always feels good. Even in cyberspace. So here's to another try . . .

OK, let's see . . .
This past weekend was Easter. We made the journey back to Chino Hills to spend the holiday with my family. Overall we had a very good time. Going home is in someways like going on vacation for me and in others like going back in time to when I spent most of my life frustrated. My mother is wonderful. She takes over all my duties and tends to the needs of my whole family and pampers me to no end. And she enjoys it! How is that possible? I'm exhausted watching her scurry around meeting and even anticipating all the needs and wants of the people she loves. I used to try and help but I never do it right and I definitely lack the love of serving that she is clearly called to. Now don't' get me wrong, its not that I don't like to do things for others, in fact I often enjoy doing special things for friends and family, its just that I have a limit. At some point my selfishness rears its ugly head and starts screaming resentment at all in my path. How I wish I could be more like my mother. You see, my father, brother and husband are all very into motorcycle riding and they usually go for a ride together whenever we get together. Not just a couple hours either, ALL DAY LONG. From sun up to well past sun down they are out enjoying the sun, their hobby and freedom. We are at home with them - the children. Which my mom doesn't mind 'cause she doesn't get to see them much. I, however, spend every waking moment with them. - Then when they return we get to make and serve them dinner, watch what they want on TV and etc. Now, I love my kids but occasionally I'd like to get out for awhile too. Mom and I never get to go do things alone together. And if I voice this I am told that I'm being hard to get along with and responsible for making everyone feel bad. And I'm eleven years old again, filled with emotion I'm not allowed to express. I usually leave filled with flashbacks of my parents reprimanding me with, "You can think whatever you want but keep it to yourself. And wipe that look off you face!"And then convicted of my selfishness the whole drive home. Again, I promise myself that next time will be different.

Today I'm just being lazy. It's 1pm and we still haven't done school. I'm fighting a migraine and I'm just spent from the weekend and plan to take it easy. I don't know why, I always feel a little lost when we get home. Like I don't know where to begin. The house is in fairly decent shape and the kids were so busy all weekend that I think we could all use a little down time. The boys keep filling plastic eggs with candy and bestowing them upon me like treasure every 5 min. I think it's their sneaky way of asking for some without actually asking. They are being really good - like I said - we are in need of a quiet day. I wish my hubby could relax with me, but he's back to the grind. In fact there is trouble between him and his partner/father and he's been a bit burned about it all weekend. Today doesn't look much better. Going into business for yourself is hard enough, add family to the mix and you might as well shove a pencil in your ear every morning. Knowing what we know now, I'm not sure we'd have gotten into this. I'm sure everything will smooth over but I'm also sure it will happen again. If I'm feeling like a little girl after one weekend at home, that poor man must feel like he's caught in a time warp.

Well I suppose I'd better go teach school- reading, writing, arithmetic and honoring thy mother and father . . . with a smile.

ps - my old posts can be viewed at username is americanspark