Saturday, March 29, 2014

We Are 5

My dear friend Shannon blessed us with her photography skills and captured our little family of five. It was a windy cold afternoon, Lazarus was in true form and Ruthie Mae had taken only 1 nap that day. Still, Shannon was able to work her magic. I'll cherish these sweet moments forever!

The messy moments of motherhood are real. They happen, daily. But they do not compare to the joyful times I have with my sweet little family. I am so thankful for these people!!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

That Moment When....

That moment when you walk out of a church parenting class encouraged and feeling ready to tackle bed time with patience and grace, but you can't find one of your kids. 10 minutes later, after enlisting every mother and child, you find your kid. You come home and all of your children are screaming. Only one has a legitimate reason. The two with working legs refuse to get out of the car. You're at the door and they refuse to move two inches to the right so mama can open the door. Everyone, still screaming. Only one has a legitimate reason.

That moment continues once you're inside and one child goes limp. Not. Gonna. Move.


You lose your patience and slam a door. Apologies all around. Finally, the older two are obeying with jammies on and brushing teeth.

You feed the child who was screaming for good reason and finally, there is calm. Middle child sweetly comes to inform you there's been a mess in the bathroom "but I already said sorry to you".

MMMmmmmmmm Kay. 

Then, a BLOW OUT. You know the type - Code Red, all hands on deck, I guess it's bath time BLOW OUT. You strip her nekid and head to the bathroom.

Ahh, yes. The mess = a broken drain, a pool of water in the sink (with toys floating) and water all over the floor.

You take a deep breath to prevent another reason for more apologies, clean it up and bathe the baby. Who slips into the water and chokes on soapy suds. More valid screaming.

Moments like this make me feel so incredibly defeated. I'm a failure of a mother. It's way too hard. Why would anyone sign up for this?

Thankfully, this is not all the time. It's just a moment and it's usually sandwiched between lots of awesome moments. I'd like to become better at shrugging things off and even laughing at life's messes. I guess practice makes perfect?

Ruthie Bloopers

Thursday, March 20, 2014

My Homeschool Fears Were Silly

Being a homeschooling mama was never in the plans for me. Honestly, I thought it was for super motivated and organized mamas. The ones who dominate Pinterest. Even now, I have moments when I fantasize about walking my kids to the bus, waving goodbye and enjoying a looooong quiet productive day while the experts do their thang. BUT, that's not my life right now and hey, I'm so glad! I honestly had no idea how much I would enjoy this job as teacher. In the beginning, I had so many fears and truly doubted I could do it. Thankfully, Kindergarten is laid back and a great year to try things out and learn my teaching style (and the kids' learning styles, too!).
Here were some of my fears and how things have actually turned out:

What If I'm not smart enough to teach them? I realized early on that "Hey! I'm the expert here!". I am an expert on my children. I know their gifts and struggles. I know exactly how to explain a certain idea in such a way that makes learning fun for them. I know how to connect math with Elijah's obsession with drawing and I know what pushes Lazzy over the edge. No other teacher could possibly have the time to learn my children the way I already know them. Plus, there are so many seminars, books and blogs out their to help homeschooling mamas like myself. I'm learning so much and I'm thankful for that! Also, never underestimate the power of GAMES.

What If my kids become socially awkward? How will I "socialize" them? When you think about it, a room full of 26 people the exact same age is a strange place to learn how to be social. Everything is about competition, especially for boys! There is no balance. Instead, children learn how to be exactly like their peers or they suffer for being different (at least that was Eli's experience last year in pre-school). In our current situation, Elijah and Lazarus both get to learn about leadership as they play with younger kids. They also have plenty of time with older kids where they can challenge themselves as they strive to keep up. They also get lots of time with grownups who are truly their friends, not just teachers.

We often have other kids come over to play and do school with us.

Our flexible schedule allows us to travel, visit friends in Seattle and to join recess at other schools. In fact, we are so busy outside of the home, my boys begin every day with "Where are we going today and who will we see?". We visit our local bakery, donut shop and grocery store where the boys help me do the shopping and interact with people in our neighborhood. All of these things would not happen as often if they were in a classroom of kids their exact age for 35 hours a week.

What if we get sick of each other? In my experience, I got more frustrated with Elijah when he was in pre-school because he felt removed from our family. While he was away, things were peaceful and we had more freedom. When he got home, the adjustment to having him there (for all of us!) was stressful. Nowadays, we are together, yes, but we are working together. We are a cohesive team-helping, teaching and encouraging each other. We work hard and we play harder and when we need space, we can take it. My children are not being forced into 7 hour long social settings with 20 other kids 5 days a week. They have SPACE to be themselves and to be alone if they feel like it. And you know what? So do I!

During the snowy days this winter, many of my facebook mama friends complained about their kids being home from school. I remember thinking that it was sad that so many mamas were ready for school to get going again because they were sick of their children. We do spend a lot of time together, but that means we also get along well. There is no awkward adjustment period on snow days. We just continue on, business as usual. That's not to say I never get sick of my kids, haha! You know I do! But, we've all learned to get along and work together while also giving space when it's needed. In fact, just this morning I sent the boys upstairs during Ruthie Mae's morning nap so I could drink my coffee and read in silence. I've been feeling somewhat frazzled in the mornings and decided to take some time for myself.

Honestly, the bonds have deepened since we began homeschooling.

Don't get me wrong-I get annoyed with my kids. Homeschooling means I get very few breaks and have to carve out time for myself so I can be refreshed and give them all I've got. And I've learned that our 2 hours of  "quiet time" is essential. We read, draw, rest - we do it together, but it's quiet and it's oh so good. 

I was terrible at geometry!! 
Guess what!? Geometry doesn't happen until much further down the road! I realized that just because we're homeschooling now, it doesn't mean we'll continue this route through college! Kindergarten is actually quite easy, and First grade is looking pretty fun. I will just take it one year at a time and seek help and wisdom where I need it. Oh, and rely on Dan for help in the math department :) Again, this is where games come in handy, too!

There were some fears, yes, but here we are. Finishing our first year of homeschool and eagerly looking forward to the next. As I plan for next year, I realize how blessed I am to be able to stay home with my children while we learn together about this amazing world.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Christmas Vacation in February

When your husband works for the church, religious holidays are B-U-S-Y. This was our first taste of true busyness during the Christmas season and it was fun, but challenging. Probably because we also had a baby who was still days old, but ya know.

Anyways, we finally cashed in on our Christmas time off. In the middle of February and I'm glad we waited. February is such a rough month. Spring still feels so far away and life is dark. It was good to get out of town, play games, ride ferries (so many boats!) and read some books.

Exploring the beach while waiting for the ferry.

Daddy/daughter cuddles on the ferry.

We were given 2 nights at an amazing vacation home on a little bay on Orcas Island. We played games, did puzzles, watched movies and explored the nature surrounding us. Breathtaking.

Coffee and treats in the adorable town on Orcas.

Exploring our own little cove in front of the vacation home.

I'm so thankful for these boys. They keep themselves busy while we drive in traffic and wait for ferries to arrive, all while Ruthie Mae screams her little head off.

These guys are such good travelers.

 We spent a couple days in Seattle where we visited with friends and explored the Experience Music Project.

The Lego Exhibit.

Fantasy : World of Myth and Magic

Ruthie napping while Laz rocks out on the drums.

Beautiful, busy expensive Seattle.

 We had a great time together as a family and made some good memories. I won't lie though, I was TIRED when we got back, needing a vacation from my vacation, haha! Still, it was good to get away and focus on our family, to be refreshed and come back to the church ready to serve.