Sunday, April 15, 2012

Early Sunday Morning Ramblings

So tomorrow my two little boys will go back to school.  It will be more of an "official" start, as their real start was three days before a week and a half of vacation (just before Easter).  Having just Bridgette at home is wonderful, and odd at the same time.  It is very quiet in the house with just her here.
The boys being gone all day long is...well, I don't know how to put it.   It's wonderful, and sad, and peaceful and too peaceful all at once.  It's a break I was longing for, cloaked in a desire to be with them a protect them from all that could possibly go wrong at once.  It's being free and happy and anxious and worried all at once.  Simply put, it's a mixed bag of emotions.
And despite sometimes questioning myself, is this really the right thing to do?, I look back at our homeschooling year and realize that yes, we needed this break.  I've always been a homeschooling mom that said "when" in terms of putting my kids in school, not "if".  I just always thought that we'd wait until we bypassed middle school before taking the plunge.  Sometimes, however, our best laid plans aren't to be.  I love teaching, and love teaching my kids.  I really do.  But this year, they started to pull away from me.  Longed for independence, and got sick of our routine.  I'd consider myself (after six years) a homeschooling veteran - I've changed curriculums, and classroom schedule and set up so many times to try to keep them interested and excited about learning.  But here's the deal (my deal anyhow)...I'm only one person.  And I only have so many tricks up my sleeve.  Even the seven year old has been schooling with me for three years, and he needed something new and different...something other than me.  That's a hard blow as a homeschooling mom who is used to being everything for her kids.  Used to being their alarm clock, their fashion consultant (sometimes forcibly), their short order cook, their chauffeur, their nanny, their nurse, their babysitter, their playmate, their teacher, their coach, etc.  The list goes on and on.
For those of you who have been a homeschooling mommy, you get this.  Being your kids' everything is all consuming.  It becomes who you are, not just what you do.
So to admit that maybe you aren't up to the call, that you need help, is both humbling and humiliating.  But we got there. Not because I couldn't control my kids, or because they were being "so bad" for me.  In fact, the opposite is true.  They are usually very easy to school, and they all learn well.  It's just that school became lack luster for us all.  It became a "have to", not  "want to".  They complained (loudly), they sat and stared out the windows, they had to be reminded again and again and again to get back to work.  Can I get an "amen" out there?  :)
Some homeschool moms call this "burnout", for me, I call it time for a change.  I'm a teacher.  Trained.  I know what school should be, and what I want it to be for my kids.  I want them to love it, period.  And if they don't love to learn, they won't want to become lifetime learners. If learning becomes another chore at the hands of a grumpy mother who spends her day nagging at them to "get it done", my fear is that they will all start to hate learning.
A few months ago, this reality came to me, and made me think about the fact that maybe it was time for some help.  Steve and I cautiously prayed about it.  Surely we wouldn't consider the *shudder* public school, right?  We looked at the cost of private schools in our area, and decided to stick it out at home, for a while longer.  Each day it was getting harder for us all to want to do school. Aside from fun history and science projects, they dreaded all other subjects in school.  Or at least they seemed to from the amount of complaining involved.  We talked and prayed some more.
Then came time for our second quarterly reports, and I realized that my oldest child was really struggling in two subjects.  Of course, I hadn't just realized it, but writing it out in narrative brought it to light again.  I contacted the local school to get some testing in place for her, and that set the ball rolling in a direction I never thought we'd go.
As we learned more about our local public school, I was shocked at the number of things I had thought about the schools that simply were not true. (Another post for another day, perhaps?) We decided to tour both the local christian school and the local public school.  Quite simply put, we were blown away by the public school.  It had...well, everything.  Beyond stuff, it had quality staff, loving teachers, and special education in all subject areas for children in need.  We brought the kids in for a tour.  They fell in love.  And opened their hearts to us in individual conversations about how they longed to be "normal", and to go school.
I had no idea.
Especially from my oldest.  She had been longing to go to school for some time now, and hadn't told me for fear of hurting my feelings.  Cue a punch to the gut.  Seriously?  Their eyes lit up as we walked the school, and child after child said hello and welcome.  These weren't the tiny foul mouthed thugs I had anticipated. They were - well, kids.  Sure they weren't all the same, and they don't all come from tidy christian homes, but they were kind, welcoming and excited at the prospect of our kids joining them.
We came home.
And they begged us to start the next day.
It all happened so quickly.
But we knew it was right.
They were ready, and I was *mostly* ready.  They're my babies after all, and they've been mine for eleven years now.  Only mine.  It's hard to share.
I know I've given them a valuable foundation both spiritually and educationally.  Even the baby can read chapter books, something I'm very proud of.  :)   But they're ready for something new. And so am I.  I love them enough to let them go and experience something other than me.  And I love myself enough to admit that I need a break.   And can I admit that I'm looking forward to it?  Bee is home for another two weeks, and then she too will go to school. After that, I will be home alone, five days a week for the first time in almost twelve years.  Some have suggested that I'll get bored, but I doubt it. There is always something to do when running a household.
Eventually I might get a part time job, but for now, I think I'll bask in my "retirement" and enjoy a well earned break.
And my kids?  They'll be okay.
I just know it.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I'm thinking....

That I just might start this up again.
It's been over a year, and I actually might have some time again.  It's been a doozy of a year.  Biggest highlights?  The monkeys turned eleven, nine (almost ten!) and seven. We were in several more productions at our local theatre.  Our house flooded, and half of it had to be gutted and rebuilt, we got a new puppy, and the most recent change?  We've decided to stop homeschooling.  That last one is going to get some time here, as I think though my thoughts and opinions about that.
It's a funny thing stopping homeschooling.  There really isn't anyone you can talk to about it, unless you come across someone else who has also chosen to put their kids "back" in school - and so far, I haven't.  I can't really talk to my homeschooling friends, they are either quietly and sweetly judgmental (how could we even consider this?? gasp!), or slightly jealous of my newly perceived "free time".  Let me tell you - it isn't all that free, I just now have time to devote to the cleaning of my house, and other stay-at-home mom adventures.  Also, one of my kids is still at home, at least for the next three weeks, then she, too will fly the coop.  It's also awkward to talk to my public school friends.  They are wholly supportive, but sorta with an air of "see, I told you how much better this would be!"
I won't go into all that right now, but I need a place to work through my feelings about this, and why not here?  I'm pretty sure that only a few of my closest friends actually read this blog, and they'll love me no matter what I say.  :)
Beyond that...I need to get going again with the weight loss and running 5ks...ever since my gall bladder surgery over a year ago, I've been at a standstill in weight loss and working out.  I'd like to blog about that too.
I'll throw in some crafts I do with the kids, and attempt to do some photos of Bee's hair styles...but she is getting older and opinionated about her hair.  That opinion usually goes like this - "Mom, I brushed my hair and put in a headband, can I be done?"  And I, of course, say yes.  I mean, she is a preteen, and needs to not be under her mamas thumb quite so much, even with her hair.
So if I have any readers left, welcome to the journey.
If not?
This will just be a place for me to get out my thoughts and give my husband's ears a rest at night.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A few more crafts for Valentine's Day

Here are a few more. This first one is just one I came up with off the top of my head, but I'm sure has been done in a million different ways.  First, I had my kids make a list of ten people that they love. Next, they wrote the names of each person on a heart. Then, they glued the hearts to a paper plate.  Once dry, they added some glitter (VERY MESSY!).  These are so beautiful and sparkly, and the photos do not do them justice, but here is how they turned out:

The next craft is a variation on this: Shhhhhh!  It's for daddy on Valentine's Day - they each had to write why they love their daddy in the center of the heart, punch holes all the way around and then lace the string through.

You can't read the yellow in this photo, but the end of that reads "playing video games."

 And of course, my rainbow girl with her rainbow markers - this took her forever to finish - but it's pretty and colorful!
We are such a mushy, gushy, lovey, huggy family.  Valentine's Day is one of our favorites. The kids get candy, a new book (an accidental tradition that started when Bridgette was three, and kinda stuck), and a card on Valentine's Day.  What does your family do?
Hug your babies today!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

It's been a while...

So, it's been a while.
Almost two months!
We've had a busy two months.
Something had to give.
And while we've been doing fun crafts around here, the blog just hasn't been updated like it normally is.
Life is like that.
Even though I love to blog - I'm a "wordy" kinda gal...when life pushes back and gets full, it's the first thing I shove off my plate.
Sorry for those of you who check back often.
I'm back on again - and hopefully will start blogging more often.
It's a good outlet for me, and if nothing else, gives me a few moments of quiet in a day of crazy.  :)

Valentine's Day!
Yes, we've been crafting, although not as much as we normally do this time of year.
Here are some we've done and loved - first, a penguin made from hearts!  Big kids can trace and cut these out on their own.

Do you have love bugs at your house?  We do!   The final step on these doesn't call for hot glue - but it's what we used to hold them together faster and better. Even Jake (5) can handle a low-temp hot glue gun.  They can be found at the dollar store, and work great for projects like this!

This next one is a "mommy put-together" craft, but cute to do something as a family, and neat as a memory to look back on when they are old.  We hung ours in the middle of our craft wall.  I found it here:

That's all we've done for Valentine's Day so far, with two more in the works...and a few others we might get to before Monday. If we do, I'll post them and the links so you can make them too!
Here are a few winter things we've done.
Mittens in snow:

Snowflakes...way too many of these floating around the house - but here are a few they did:

And winter handprint wreaths.  These are about to be replaced with Valentine's Day wreaths, so I wanted to get a photo before I took them down!

And these are just too fun not to share. I haven't been putting too much up here from our homeschool curriculum, but these are Brazillian Carnival Masks that the kids made. They came out awesome!

Phew!  How's that for a catch up?
I'm doing great since surgery in December, and am finally back to jogging two miles each morning, which feels great. I've lost some more weight, but that is another post for another time.  The kids are good, hubby is good, and I can't complain.
I hope you are doing well!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Where in the blog-o-sphere has she been???

Well, a craft a day until Christmas kinda got blown away this year.  I'm sad about it.  I'll let my kids' journal entries explain what I've been up to this past week (grammar and spelling left as they did it):

From my would be doctor:
"When they do mommys surgery they will put four tubes in her.  They will cut the gallblater and take it out.  They will take out the tubes and take her to the recovere room.  I am sad that mommy  has to get the gallblater out but I want to be in there when they do the surgery."

From my little man who is all boy:
"Mommy's surgery will be on wendesday Desember twenty second.  What does mommy's gulblatter look like?  Does evrewons gulblatter look the same?  I hope mommy will be okay."

And from my baby:
"I hop mome gets dun fast.  and i would kis mome wen she. gits hom."

It's been a long, painful, vicodin filled week - but surgery is just a few days away.  I have friends who are around the clock helping me with kids and cooking - and a husband who is holding down the fort with cleaning and love.  It isn't the way I wanted to end 2010, but I suppose being surrounded by those who love you isn't so bad.
Will write an update after surgery to let you all know how it went.  Prayers for no complications and a quick recovery are appreciated.
God Bless you this Christmas season.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Our Week of Michaels and ACMoore Crafts

Eh- that about sums up my opinion of doing these pre-fab crafts for the week. They were helpful as we were busy with the Christmas production, but they weren't all that they were cracked up to be.  Some we loved, some we didn't - but here's my take on some that you might try with your own kids.

First we did the "make a mug" craft. In terms of doing it - simple. They color.  The only issue is that the tops are really loose on the bottoms, so the insides can easily get wet. To fix this, we covered their art with contact paper, trimmed it to fit, and put it in the cups.  This way, even if they get wet between the outer part of the cup and the insert, the art is still safe.  They loved it - I thought they were kinda dumb.
Next we moved on to foam house kits - which were adorable, but needed a lot of adult supervision.  My older two kids could assemble theirs, but Jake needed some help.  Also, even though the directions don't call for it - you really need a hot glue gun to put them together.  They suggest craft glue - but it just doesn't work.  Trust me, we tried. The final product was adorable, but this is a totally hands-on project for mommy or daddy to do with the kids.

The next project we did was a "melt bead" project - you know they look like this in the package:

These were very easy for my kids.  Bee followed the directions on hers and made an ornament:

Then Alex made this on his own - I was pretty impressed:

And then Jake copied it exactly - which I also was impressed by - I mean, he's only five!  :)
These were nice, because aside from the ironing at the end, the kids could work on these on their own between subjects. They are simple, time consuming, and work those necessary fine motor skills.  As for what to do with them??  The holes seal shut, so you can't really hang them - right now they are hanging out on my kids' school desks...they seem to like them there.  :) 

The next day, we made these puppets - which I adore!!  The kids could totally do them on their own, once I tied a knot in their needles for them (so the string wouldn't fall out).  They could look at the package, and figure out which pieces needed to be glued onto which parts - and they came out so cute!   On Jake's (Santa) we had to use cotton balls for a beard because it didn't come with his beard for some reason.  For a buck, though, I can't complain.  This is a totally kid-independent (you'll note that I was actually able to take photos of them doing this one)  project, and I give it two thumbs way up!

 Finally, we made these "little pot pals" - which I just coudn't resist. Now, these were also supposed to be put together with tacky craft glue - but we didn't even attempt it. I took this as an opportunity to teach my kids how to use a hot glue gun.  Some parts they held while I glued, and some parts I held while they glued. Each one was a team effort, with them doing as much as I felt they could.  They enjoyed using the hot glue, and it made the projects come together quite quickly and easily.  Aren't they sweet?

*note - bee's didn't come with eyes - so she drew them on, because the only google eyes we had on hand would have been too big.

So there you have it - our week of store bought crafts. This week we did more "home made" type crafts which I will be posting at the end of this week and throughout the week next week, with links so you can make them too if you want to.
I hope you are enjoying your babies this holiday season. I know I am!!
Merry, Merry!!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Christmas Style #2...and a traditional Christmas Craft

We always start December with this tried and true craft- but it's not too late for you to join in the fun!!  Have your child make a card that says Bridgette's (your child's name, of course!) Christmas Countdown - they can decorate it however they wish.  In the past, I have always given my kids red and green paper, but this year I let them pick their own colors. The only (school) requirement was that their chain had to be in a pattern.  Last year, Jake still needed a bit of help - this year, they all did it on their own, in just a few minutes.  They are getting so big!!
Here are our Christmas countdown chains - I didn't get very good shots because I forgot to take photos until after they were  hung up.  For smaller children (like under age five), it's a good idea to hang them where they cannot reach them.  Each day, you can lift them up to help them reach their ring to tear off - if they are easy to reach, they might tear them all down in one day - not that it's happened to us before...   :)

Last night, we had a dress rehearsal for the Christmas show, so I decided to do Bee's hair in an updo style. This one was so simple, and came out really cute!!  I didn't do a step by step, and I kinda made it up as I went along, but it was really easy.  First, I pulled up part of her hair in front in an elastic (see photos). Then I had her lay on her tummy with her head hanging over the end of my bed.  I french braided her hair from the bottom up, and added the end of the braid to the top pony that I had made earlier.
Once the pony was dry, I added curlers, and left them in for about an hour.  I think it is important to add a light spritz of hairspray to each strand before you roll it - this helps the curls stay in "difficult to curl" hair.
I took the curlers out one at a time and bobby pinned them around her head - added a bow, and tada!  Adorable updo!!
This one might just be the winner - or we might do a different style each night. We'll see what she's up for!  The exciting part of doing this was that a few other moms asked if I'd do their girlie's hair for the show.  I'm going to be in hair-doing heaven!!   :)

Both my kiddos before the show last night - little Mister was sooo not into having his photo taken...despite the smile here - don't let him fool you!!  :)

Here are the kids during rehearsal last night:

Today we're doing minimal school, and getting ready for shows this weekend, and our homeschooling co-op Christmas party tomorrow morning. 'Tis the season for crazy, busy, fun, awesome family time!
Remember to have fun ths time of year - Jesus wouldn't want us to be stressed about His birthday!!   Hug your babies, your man, and your friends - and have a blast with all that you do!