Monday, September 28, 2015

Minion construction Day 1


Yes, you are correct.  This is not a minion.

I love creative costumes like this one pictured above.  It is easy, kid-appropriate and humorous.  Especially if you tried to sit down.  I bet I could whip this up in about a half-hour - unlike the stupid undertaking I am in the midst of, making not one, but TWO minion costumes.  These minions are the costume creation from hell, I tell you.  I think at least 287 different steps are involved.

I am the proud owner of a new glue gun, since my trusty old one is currently 'misplaced' and no one is fessing up.  My new glue gun is the boss.  The glue gets wicked hot.  WICKED hot.  Like, shout-several-curse-words hot if glue oozes out over your skin. Which of course it does!  And, wouldn't you know... gluing foam is difficult, and holding two pieces of foam together, sandwiching 1000 degree hot glue in between is not a pleasant crafting activity.  The directions I am following for these costumes made is sound like you just glue here, press here.. glue there and press there, and voila!  A perfectly rounded minion head!  So after expending a lot of mental energy in trying problem solve glue vs. foam, I have some insight to share.  

Clothespins, crafty people!  Clothespins are your friends!  After struggling with that stupid tube of foam for the entire first half of the Broncos game, I got wise and figured clamping it shut with the help of clothespins would do the trick, since I clearly did not have enough hands.  Besides, clothespins do not have nerve-endings.  My hands do.  I pinned up twelve seams sealed with hot glue, still burning each and every one of my fingers plus a way-too-curious child (or two) in the process, but the clothespins got the job done in holding everything closed until the glue set (I actually let it sit overnight).  The kids wondered if this freaky-looking minion head with about 50 clothespins sticking out all over it was the finished product.  Uh... no.  I am now in the process of working on minion head #2, in between math problems, dirty dishes, phonics and tuna fish sandwiches.  

Maybe it was the cool moon spectacle messing with my crafty mojo last night...  

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Simple Woman's Daybook Entry



Outside my window... An absolutely gorgeous fall morning.  The air is still and the neighborhood is quiet.  I hear the occasional crow...

I am thinking... about how the Pope moved so many people this week.  I'm not Catholic, but his words are for all of us.  I hope Congress listens.  I hope the nation listens.  I hope the world listens.

I am thankful... That the cub scout meeting that I led last week went well.  We have 10 little boys - and they are all full of life yet very sweet.  The object of the meeting was to create *something* out of recycled materials.  Boys this age are not big on crafts... (are they ever?) but I did find a cool project on Pinterest where the boys could create a wolf head, since they are wolves right now.  They were actually excited!  I have all the pieces and parts that they have constructed, now I just need to glue it all together and spray paint it.  They then can add details this coming week.

From the Learning Rooms... Rylan has finally clicked with multiplication, Owen is really getting into math as well - MEP is a very good fit for him and his problem-solving style.  Colin is spending lots of time on ABC Mouse and really enjoying it.  On Friday, I watched a fantastic online discussion given by Julie Bogart from Brave Writer on Periscope, called 'When it all goes wrong in your homeschool'.  It was just the shot in the arm I needed for positive thinking after the first month of slogging through work with the kids.  Even though this is our 8th year homeschooling, sometimes you need to hear that it will all be OK over and over and over again.  This particular discussion is no longer available on Periscope (they only remain for 24 hours), but Julie indicated that she would put it up on the Brave Writer site in the near future.

In the kitchen... I figured out a quick and easy way to create beef stew this past week.  I purchased two packages of Hormel's Beef Tips in Gravy (which would be about the same price as getting stew meat), 32 oz beef stock, bottle of beer, baby carrots, celery, onion, mushrooms and baby potatoes or sweet potatoes.  First saute the onion and mushroom in some butter or oil, and after a few minutes add in some chopped celery.  While the veggies are sauteing, I put the carrots and potatoes (cut into 1 inch chunks) into a pampered chef microwave steamer with a little bit of water, and steamed them in microwave for about 7-8 minutes.  This will cut down on the cooking time, overall.  As soon as the onions turn golden brown and most of the liquid from the mushrooms has cooked off, sprinkle a generous amount of flour over the vegetables and stir until it is mixed in well.  Then pour in a little beer to deglaze the pan, scraping all the good bits off the bottom.  Keep pouring in a little more beer, stir, and then a little more, until the entire bottle is mixed in well.  Add the beef stock, stir well.  Add in the carrots and potatoes - plus the water they steamed in!  Finally, open up the two containers of Beef Tips and scrape all of it into the pot and mix well.  Add a little pepper.  I would nix adding extra salt, there is plenty in the stock and Beef Tips.  Any part of this process can be tailored to what you have on hand veggie-wise.  You can also add some Worcestershire,  a bit of tomato paste... whatever.  When it is all mixed in, cook for about 15 minutes and it should be good to go.  I actually made it twice this week.  Dean needed to take stew with him for Fall Camporee this weekend, so I made a second batch.  It goes together from start to finish in about 30 minutes.  Yummy and kid-approved!

I am wearing... blue silk(ish) pjs from this past Mother's Day.

I am creating... Minion costumes!  Do you know how hard it is to find a large piece of egg-crate foam??  I gave up after visiting five different stores looking for a twin-size mattress foam pad, and just purchased a roll of foam from Hobby Lobby and used a 40% off one item coupon on my phone.  It's not quite as thick as what I wanted, but it will do.  Can't wait to get started. :)

I am going... On a fall hike very shortly.  There is a family fall colors hike at the cub scout camp about an hour away, so we are picking up my dad and then heading up there to join the other families from our pack, and Dean and Jordan will join us as well, since they will be ending their camporee stuff just down the road at the boy scout camp.  Should be a beautiful day!  

I am wondering... If you still get monthly cramps after a hysterectomy. (?)  Three weeks and counting...

I am reading... I visited the Pottermore site yesterday, and read the new bit on there about Harry's ancestors.  Loved it!

I am hoping... That even though I really do love the sunshine, I hope that it starts to cool off a bit and feel more like 'fall'.  I also hope that Rylan's loose tooth comes out today.  It is her first molar tooth to come loose, but it is wedged against her wire band of her braces, so she can only wiggle it in one direction.  She is complaining.  Loudly.  All the time.

I am looking forward to... This coming week.  No extra stuff on the schedule.  It is also my dad's birthday and my FIL's birthday (same day).  I am thinking about taking my dad to the Denver Botanical Gardens.

I am learning... How to shape foam with scissors this week.  Minion teeth...

I am hearing... Clone Wars on Netflix (I think they are actually really good!).

Around the house... Tons of dog hair.  Still!  I hope Abby finishes her seasonal shed soon.

I am pondering... All the advice I heard on the online discussion I mentioned earlier.  Lots of good stuff there - especially the advice that homeschoolers (the parents, really) need to offload the tendency to feel like society's perception of homeschooling rests on their shoulders.  (I do this to myself all. the. time.) Yes, it is a non-conventional educational choice that we've made, but don't feel like you have to live under the constant pressure to always perform at a higher standard in order to prove the skeptics wrong...  This includes making comments to public school parents that your homeschooling experience is above par, even when it isn't.  Even homeschoolers can have bad days (weeks)(months)(year?) and it is okay to be honest with yourself and those you converse with.  Don't put yourself in the position that you must uphold the entity of 'Homeschooling' and push yourself to emulate an impossible, and mythical standard.  Keep it real.  Embrace your messy house, your lack of exercise or balanced meals and the children that refuse to produce stellar work, and just enjoy your choice to be with your children and homeschool them.  You are so lucky to have this opportunity.  Children grow up way to fast, and you need to treasure these years, not be a slave to them.  Good advice! 

One of my favorite things... Telling my youngest, as I put him to bed, about the exciting thing that he will be doing the next day.  He is so cute when he is excited. :)

A few plans for the rest of the week... A hike today, and possibly the Botanical Gardens mid-week.  Then the usual roundup of activities: Lego robotics, ballet, jazz, violin and Nutcracker practice for Rylan, piano and cub scouts for Owen, and boy scouts for Jordan.


Here is a picture for thought I am sharing...



Rylan helped me pick out a fall wreath yesterday, for the front door.  I love fall!!





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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Cat fight in the night


Cat fights are totally related to penguins...

You know how, in just about any penquin documentary, they mention that even when surrounded by a colony of penquins, a returning female can pick out the distinct call of her mate and find him in the crowd?  It is the same thing with mothers.  You can be at the playground deeply immersed in conversation or a good book, with the noise of kiddos running everywhere, each yelling to their friends or their own mothers, but when your child calls out, "Mommy!", you are instantly aware they are referring to you.

It's the same thing with your pets.  Early this morning I was jerked awake by a yowling cat telling off another cat, just outside our window, and I just knew it was our cat.  She was not supposed to be outside.  We let her out occasionally, but only during daylight, and she usually keeps to our backyard.  I got up and double-checked all of her usual sleeping spots, and yep, no Kitty.  I went downstairs and opened the front door.  I barely got a 'Kitty-Kitty' out before she made a beeline up the front walk and hurried past me - telling me exactly what she thought of me as she passed by.  I'm sure it was something along the lines of, "You stupid human.  I am WET (sprinklers).  I was ACCOSTED by Jinx (neighbor's cat).  I can't believe you FORGOT about me."  In my defense, it was probably some young child in the house that let her out the back door, just as everybody was finishing ice cream and heading for bed, and nobody noticed.  Not my fault.  Except for it kinda is since I usually count heads before I retire, both human and animal.  Sorry Kitty.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Simple Woman's Daybook Entry



Outside my window... Sigh.  The neighbor and his noise.  This morning, at exactly 7:42, he started up something that sounded like a sander or a buffer.  And now, at 9:22, he is still going.  Great neighbors, with the exception of his annoying habit of using power tools early in the morning on the weekends.  Also, it is bright and sunny, with just a bit of breeze.

I am thinking... About cats.  Our new cat, Riley, and our original cat, Kitty, are finally getting along.  It's been three months now.  They chase each other around, tolerate the other's presence and have even shared the same food bowl once or twice.  It is interesting to watch how they are always aware of where the other one is.  Riley regularly carries out ambush attacks on Kitty.  It is not exactly a fair fight though, since Kitty has claws and Riley does not.  During the mornings in the schoolroom, the smaller windows are open in the bay window, and each goes to her respective window to keep watch over the neighborhood.

I am thankful... for September.  I love you, September.

From the Learning Rooms... We covered early humans, nomads and early farmers last week in SOTW.  The kids made 'cave paintings' on the single paper bag I managed to find in the garage, squirreled away over the summer for this very purpose.  One morning, when just Owen was up, we sat on the couch and he combed through a DK book on prehistoric life from cover to cover.  I had found him studying the page featuring a trilobite, and he was worried about it.  "Do these still exist?"  "Will they bite you?".  I told him to think of it as a giant rolypoly and no, they don't exist anymore, but we can go see the fossil of one at the museum.  He slowly worked his way through the book, studying the pages and asking some very thoughtful questions.  It was pure Owen.  I love that kid.

In the kitchen... I am making monster cookies and cutting up watermelon and cantaloupe for a picnic later this afternoon.  The kids are in the process of making grape koolaid to pour into the popsicle molds.

I am wearing... pjs.  Pulled out the winter flannel pjs last night.  It's getting chilly at night now!

I am creating... not much at the moment.

I am going... to a picnic later today for our homeschool group.  It is our annual Not-Back-to-School picnic.  It is always a fun time.

I am wondering... What in the world to have 10 cub scouts do for a recycling activity at the meeting this coming Thursday.  I will be consulting Pinterest for ideas.  The den leader is out of town this week, so the meeting falls on my shoulders.  Heaven help me.

I am reading... The den leader scout manual for what to do for this upcoming activity/badge thingy.

I am hoping... That half of the boys will skip scouts for soccer practice.

I am looking forward to... The pack Fall Color hike next weekend.

I am learning... about hysterectomies.

I am hearing... A blend of Transformers on TV, the sander outside, and Rylan stirring koolaid in the kitchen.  The kids are explaining to me that it is an early episode, when Bumblebee still had his voice.  And that Bumblebee is Colin's favorite color - yellow.

Around the house... the usual line-up.  Laundry and dishes.

I am pondering... starting on the boys' Halloween costumes today.  Clock is ticking...

One of my favorite things... Quiet.  Which is an elusive thing these days.

A few plans for the rest of the week...  Rylan has her first consultation appointment in regards to her scoliosis.  We got the x-rays done in May, now it is time to find out what we need to do right now, if anything.  There is scout popcorn everywhere.  The boys need to sell it.  Dean and Jordan leave for Fall Camporee this upcoming weekend.

Here is a picture for thought I am sharing...


We met up with my brother and SIL and two of their three boys and went to the circus last weekend.  The kids loved it.  Colin was the most impressed with the motorcycles in the ball cage.  Owen and Rylan liked the dogs doing stunts the best, and Jordan couldn't stop talking about the guy that shot ballons with a crossbow.  He was certain that it was faked somehow.  Nobody liked the horseback routine where they jump on the backs of the horses.  I loved the audience-participation bit where kids played a variety of silly instruments.




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Ode to my uterus...

You safely carried my babies three
Until my body set them free
Like clockwork came the monthly flood
Otherwise known as the period
I pushed you too hard in delivery
of my final sweet baby
You began to descend
and now the surgeon must mend
Out you will go
So long, Aunt Flo!


So, I didn't exactly think during my consultation with a gynecological surgeon last week that I would be adding 'Hysterectomy' to my agenda next month.  I did not go in thinking about my uterus at all, actually.  I was consulting him about an entirely different problem, and botta-boom-botta-bing next thing you know he's talking major surgery.  

Five years ago, when I delivered Colin, I pushed way too hard.  The midwife handling the delivery was new to me, because my usual one was handling an emergency delivery elsewhere.  This midwife did not coach me one bit.  I just pushed and pushed and pushed because it hurt so much and I just wanted him out.  All of that pushing put extreme pressure on various parts 'down there' and things haven't been the same since.  In technical terms, the issue for the past five years has been a rectocele. (look it up)  Not a pleasant thing to live with.  Every annual exam, my regular midwife - who I have seen for the past ten years, has asked me if I wanted to get it looked at by a surgeon.  I always said no in the past, because it sounded like a horrific surgery to me (as my imagination ran wild...)  Finally, this year, I gave in.  I am concerned that the longer it goes on, it may invite other medical issues to crop up.  

So I met with the surgeon this past week, and after the exam, he said that the rectocele was indeed quite significant.  In addition to that, my uterus was showing signs of minor prolapse, as well as the bladder.  If he were to do only the surgery to correct the rectocele, it would just put additional pressure on the uterus, making a full collapse inevitable in the years to come.  The hysterectomy was 'optional', but heavily recommended.  I think I thought about it for about a half-second before I said oh hell yes.

I have been living with the threat of cervical cancer hanging over my head for the last 20 years or so.  It began with an abnormal pap that revealed pre-cancerous cells on my cervix, due to HPV.  So I had a LLETZ loop cone biopsy done (look it up).  Ten years after that I had to have another one, just after the delivery of Rylan, plus a DNC to remove leftover placental material.  To remove this threat would be a huge relief for me.  Also, after 345 periods (give or take) I think I have had my fill, and am ready to be done with that whole business.

So next month it is, and if my calculations are correct, it will be right at the end of a period.

Joy. 



  

Monday, September 7, 2015

Um, waitress....waitress????....WAITRESS!!


Today is my brother's birthday.  Last night we finalized plans to go out to eat and celebrate this evening.  He chose to go to the Mexican restaurant that I worked at for 12 years.  I think that is what set in motion the wild waitressing dreams I had last night.  If you've ever worked a service-type job, I'm sure you can relate.  Years after the fact, you will often have those dreams (nightmares) about working that job.  Mine always seem to be about getting slammed with customers, and being the only one around to wait on them.

Last night I dreamed about the typical endless stream of tables arriving and waiting for me to serve them, and I also dreamed that I had to hunt all over the back kitchen and the back storage rooms looking for different various things for the customer.  My senorita serving outfit was even more horrendous that the original.  My bosses - a husband and wife team, were also in the dream, appearing here and there but not really interacting with me.

These dreams always stress me out.  I can feel myself getting worked up as the customers in my dreams berate me for taking so long getting their drinks/chips and salsa/food/ticket...  And last night was just the same - wash, rinse, repeat.

except...

In last night's dream, the details were rather vivid.  I was busier than ever.  I was even rolling silverware.  Uugh.  I was ripping open bagged-up packages of plastic spoons and forks, and rolling them up in ugly blue napkins.  I ran out of tortilla chips, and had to rip open these tiny plastic bags and gather them up, one-by-one and put them in the bowl.  I was pretty stressed out.  Every table was full of people waiting for me to show up with something.

I don't know if I was semi-awake or not, but somehow the dream shifted into a different light.  It was like I knew I was dreaming, so all of a sudden I didn't give a rat's ass if a rather cranky woman didn't get the correct food and I had to go into the kitchen and argue with the cooks.  Why?  Because there would be no repercussions - nothing to feel bad about, since it. wasn't. real.  Aha!  REVENGE waitressing dreams!  I can spill all the green chili I want into a customer's lap (true story...), I can leave them waiting for their ticket F O R E V E R and there's nothing they can do about it.  Can't find that beer for that obnoxious guy yelling at me in the bar window?  Too fucking bad.  You need a styrofoam to-go box?  Good luck with that.

I feel like I've been set free!  


Sunday, September 6, 2015

Simple Woman's Daybook Entry



Outside my window... A bright morning with blue skies and a breeze that is a little on the cool side.  Perfect.

I am thinking... About Kathy.  Kathy was the mom who hired me many, many years ago to nanny her three children.  I worked for the family for nine years.  Kathy passed away last week after a courageous five-year battle with brain cancer.  I attended a party hosted by the family in her memory yesterday afternoon.  It was wonderful to see the kids - all three have spread their wings and left the nest, and I haven't seen the older two girls in a few years.  Kathy was a wonderful mom and great mentor - she will be missed very much.

I am thankful... That it is Labor Day weekend.  It is nice to have an extra day to get caught up on stuff.  I am also thankful that last week's big transition to a new platform (Yahoo Groups to Bigtent) for our homeschool group went relatively smoothly.  So far about 40-45 members have moved over and it was pretty painless.  The other 70-80 members have yet to even open their email invitation.  Typical.

From the Learning Rooms... The rest of our curriculum arrived from Rainbow Resource on Friday, so I am itching for Tuesday to arrive so we can start.  This was the language arts component - All About Reading for Owen, MosDos Opal and Shurley English for Rylan.  Looking through the materials, I am most excited for MosDos with Rylan.  Her anthology looks awesome - she has already read a couples stories on Friday as we unpacked the boxes and looked over everything.

In the kitchen... Leftover blackened tilapia, much to the family's dismay.  Time to go shopping for the week.

I am wearing... pjs. The outfit of weekend blogging champions!

I am creating... Last night I opened up Pinterest to get the ideas churning for Halloween costumes.  Owen and Colin want to be Minions, and Rylan wants to be Scarlet Overkill.  Owen's and Colin's will take a lot of work, but I am excited to start.  It involves foam, a glue gun and lots of yellow spray paint.  Rylan's wig, gloves and dress have been ordered.  Luckily the red dress can double for any holiday dress needs this upcoming season and her fall violin recital.  

I am going... to drive to see my aunties later this afternoon.  They called this morning to report that they have two flats of garden tomatoes that need a new home.  I could have cried with happiness!  I can't wait to start a batch of sauce this evening in the crockpot.  I can smell it now.... ahhhhh...

I am wondering... what to write here.  Moving on...

I am reading... I am still working on Elizabeth Berg's The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted.  

I am hoping... for rain this week.  It's been too dry.

I am looking forward to... Fall!  Fall is my favorite.  Thinking about Halloween costumes has put me in the mood..

I am learning... How to carve and shape foam with scissors.

I am hearing... I can vaguely hear the kids arguing about BoomBlox on the Wii.  I have headphones on, which helps.  I am listening to my current standby for writing music - Coldplay.  

Around the house... Dean fixed the Wii last night (hence to sudden urge to by the kids to play).  It was making a horrible whine.  He looked up a video on YouTube about how to diagnose the sound and fix it.  He and Rylan took it apart and tweaked whatever little metal part was out of position and it was fixed. yay!  Today I will probably gather up the Calvert stuff and clear the kid's school shelves for their new books, papers and things.

I am pondering... What the hell to do with all the Calvert books.  

One of my favorite things... Those first hints of fall, like the slightly cooler mornings and the first few leaves on the fruit trees beginning to brown and fall.

A few plans for the rest of the week... This is an unusually quiet week.  Just school, scouts for Owen and violin for Rylan.

Here is a picture for thought I am sharing... 

Colin, June 2011

I came across this yesterday, and this picture never fails to crack me up...




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Saturday, September 5, 2015

Epiphany


**Note - this post was written in late May, but never posted.  (No idea why)  It expresses lots of good stuff for a homeschooling parent to ruminate on, so I thought it worthwhile to set it free...

Yesterday morning, in the midst of the chaos of baking muffins, answering email, finding clean underwear and pouring grape juice and then cleaning up spilled grape juice, I had a thought come to me.  Well, several, actually.  The thoughts were like teeny tiny droplets of water that were spread out over a leaf, and then the leaf was disturbed and all the droplets fell victim to gravity and rolled down toward the center of the leaf, gathering speed...

I had planned, so very carefully late last summer, to dump any unnecessary or unfulfilling obligations, clear the decks, free up our (my) time and let homeschooling take center stage.  I sought out an ally - Calvert, to help me do this.  I let Calvert dictate the schedule, the process, the content and so forth.  I let the teachers work with my kids, they took tests, did assignments and got grades.  It actually has been a good experience - mostly for Jordan.  It allowed him to really grow as a student this year, his writing skills, planning skills and organization skills are getting a workout, and we both feel he is ready.  He is ready to take on public high school next year, a transition that is right for him and for me.

For Rylan and Owen though, the experience has been difficult.  Rylan loves the social aspect - the twice-a-week online classes complete with chat box, but hates, HATES, H.A.T.E.S. the school work. Rylan is not the complete-a-worksheet sort of learner.  She loves projects, she loves to write, and she takes initiative  - - when she is inspired.  Otherwise, she curls up into a ball, faces the back of her chair, and all of sudden her head is simply too heavy to hold up.  Same with her pencil.  In Owen's case, he is in la la land.  He fiddles with everything within arms reach, ignores any requests that involve moving a pencil on paper, yet he has this irritating gift that he hears everything you say even though you think he took a mental vacation to who-know's-where, and can repeat it back to you, word-for-word.  Owen also has a gift of finding patterns in everything.  Math with be a breeze for this kid.  But he also finds patterns in language - surprising me at every turn.  This is also the boy who can't tell a 'b' from a 'd', or a 'p'.

Which brings me to my epiphany that I had this morning.

We are slogging through the last four weeks of school.  All three kids are finishing up projects, have tests to take and so forth.  Both Rylan and Owen take the STAR test.  They took it at the beginning of the year, then again at mid-year, and now they have to again at the end.  Since we school at home, the teachers send us a link to get into the test, and we are supposed to take it within a two week window. When we did the tests before, I followed the teacher's directions and once I was sure the test was started and they were in good shape, I left the room as I was instructed to.  I know what the STAR early literacy test is, I had my own students (back when I was teaching in public school) take it and so forth.  But here is the rub - at every opportunity, the kids were wearing headphones.  I never heard the audio that goes on during test.  This time, since I was curious and the house was unusually quiet, I unplugged the headphones during Owen's test so that I could watch and listen.  OMG.  

This.

This is why we made the decision to homeschool in the first place.  This is why I hate testing and lost my teaching job because of it.  Testing is so fucking stupid.

Here is why I am pissed.  All year long, in Owen's case, we have been working on learning the alphabet, phonemes, beginning sounds, ending sounds, vowel sounds, blah, blah, blah.  It is presented in the same fashion, every time.  I am supposed to present it a 'certain' way, much like reading a script.  Occasionally I would vary it if we were working on a Bob book or something, and Owen worked on Reading Eggs as well, which adds a ton of variety.   But when it comes to the test... oh the HELL NO.  Here is a sample:  The question shows three boxes, with a word in each box: 'lip', 'cat', and 'jet'.  Then there is a word printed at the top - "sit".  Then an annoying voice says, "Which word has the same middle sound as in the word "sit"?  Okay, - yes, this is a good question.  But the presentation, the multiple skills involved at decoding, phoneme matching and selecting are all really complicated to begin with - for a beginning reader.  Also, never in the lessons has isolating the middle vowel sound ever been presented in this way, so this is totally new to him.  Furthermore, the annoying voice only gives you 10 seconds to think about it and then it asks you again.  And again.  And again.  Even I was thinking hard and saying "SHUT UP!!!! LEMME THINK!!!!" inside my head.  Poor Owen.  It was the same scenario in Rylan's case, too.  And it was question after question, just like that.

I already know what their strengths and weaknesses are, I hate that I have to put them through this.  Yes, I want to see benchmarks met and check for growth, but if they can successfully do something this week that they couldn't do last week, that's good enough for me.

I've had a lot of brief conversations with other homeschooling friends lately, they know I am struggling with Calvert and ask how it is going.  I've heard lots of stories and affirmation that kids will learn, in their own time, their own way, and if we just get out of the way and stop putting limits on them, they will find the connections, and in a much more meaningful way.

Calvert did let me take a break from having to plan everything.  I didn't have to scout out the right materials for each subject, I didn't have to construct the proper pace or sequence...  In fact, Calvert allowed me to check out completely.  Which allowed me to have a complete emotional breakdown, and the stress of keeping up with mountains of worksheets led to lots of crying and thoughts that I completely suck at anything I try to put my hand to.

I reminded myself a few days ago to take myself back to when I was last truly happy in life - a happiness that you feel at your very core, a joy that can't be rattled or dampened.  I was happy when I was in flow.  I was in flow when I was planning, organizing, scouting out materials, writing, presenting.. all the things I was doing as I was in school getting my teaching degree - and I would also have to add my first year of teaching - up until that fateful month of April when my name on the classroom door changed.  Twice.

The fact that I haven't been able to stop thinking about the curriculum that I wished we could be using, or the activities I know the kids would get much more meaning from, or the fact that we are bound to the desk and can't be out exploring and doing, tells me that my heart knows where we need to be.  My heart is aching for that place of pure joy again - that place where flow was happening.  If I could just get my head to stop interfering with what my hearts wants, all would be good.

Therein lies the epiphany.  Follow your heart.  Your heart knows the path you must take.

It is also a message that has been tattooed on my ankle for the past 22 years.  Go figure...


Friday, September 4, 2015

The transition to high school..



Jordan's first few couple weeks have passed by and it seems like a pretty easy transition, so far.  Here are a few thoughts...

1.  After 8 years of homeschooling, the whole business of getting a kiddo off to school in the morning feels absolutely foreign to me.  As luck would have it, Jordan is actually very easy to wake and get moving.  He makes his own breakfast and so forth.  All I have to do is roll out of bed, grab my coffee and drive him one whole mile to school.

2.  Rule Change.

     a. Kids can bring cell phones to class.  Hell, they can even use them.  Each teacher has their own rule about phones.  Yes, you can play music during a test. (!)  Yes, you can answer that text, if it is really important.  (!!)  Yes, you can play games on your device if your work is done. (!!!)

     b.  Assignments can be turned in up to a week past due date, for full credit.  Even that is negotiable.

     c.  Poor clothing choices are the norm. (Do these parents ever look at their children before they walk out the door???)

     d.  Students are shockingly rude to their teachers.  Openly giving the finger, refusing to remove an earbud while the teacher is conducting the lesson...  w. o. w.  Everything I hate about the atmosphere of public high schools.

3.  Helicopter parents rejoice!!  The parent portal is hands-down awesome.  I can log on and see Jordan's schedule, see his attendance and know if he was tardy to any class, view his past, current and upcoming assignments and see his grades on everything and know immediately if anything is missing.  I try not to be 'that' parent, but so far it has come in handy when I logged in yesterday for my weekly-lookover and saw that he had a missing assignment from last week.  I texted him immediately.  He was in history, so naturally he texted me back.  I got on to him for missing the assignment AND for texting me back.   He will be spending Labor Day weekend finishing that assignment. :/  I can also log into to his lunch account and see his purchase history.  He's been buying an extra cookie almost every day.

4.  Jordan is experiencing what classroom culture is really like.  Students still pass rude notes.  Now they apparently also video you with their phones while snickering with their friends.  Some kids are nice.  Some are assholes.

5.  Yes, the cafeteria burrito bar is really that bad.

6.  Student assemblies are fun.  And loud.

7.  Bell schedules take some getting used to.

8.  Yes.  Homework before screen time.  Always.  And I know when you have homework.  (awesome!!)


I try to separate my feelings/memories of high school from what he is currently experiencing.  His experience is unique to him.  He is stronger in many ways than I ever was to peer criticism and the desire to fit in.  He confronts those who pester him.  He has made acquaintances, but not necessarily friends.  He often eats lunch alone, but also with a purpose - he has found a quiet corner that he likes to sit at and do his homework so he doesn't have to do it at home.  What parent would complain about that?  I just hope he finds his tribe soon.  It will help when clubs start up...



Sunday, August 30, 2015

Simple Woman's Daybook Entry



Outside my window... Sunshine and a soft breeze.

I am thinking... About my nephew who is celebrating a birthday today, about my cousin that celebrated a birthday yesterday, and my husband who celebrated his birthday the day before that, the food I need to prepare for a picnic we're attending this afternoon, the massive curriculum order I need to place, the fact that Jordan still needs to complete his homework, the stuff I need to do in preparation for the new season of Cub Scouts that begins this week, and the big change that is happening to our homeschool online platform that is happening in T-minus 38:21 hours, and I still have to figure out how to get 120 invites sent out to our membership.

I am thankful... For the slight change in my medication.  I had a very productive initial Dr. visit with a new psychiatrist last week.  I am currently taking 30mg of Prozac daily, but am feeling 'flat' and unmotivated.  So after reviewing my situation and current mental health, he recommended adding 150mg Wellbutrin to the Prozac.  I've got a long-term low grade depression, layered with a more immediate depression that comes and goes with the times.  The Wellbutrin should help stabilize things and help me with the motivation piece so that I can move beyond the current 'hole' that I feel like I am trapped in right now.  (hole = always feeling like I am behind and overwhelmed, and helpless to stop the cycle).

From the Learning Rooms... The kids and I are about to get into the full swing of things when their curriculum arrives later this week. (hopefully - it is the busy season for that, so shipping may be an issue).  We have been doing math, history and science these past weeks, but I am anxious to get the Language Arts stuff going.  Jordan is doing well with his transition to public high school.  I have a blog post in production about that...

In the kitchen... I am making black-eyed pea dip and monster cookies for the picnic later today.  About 45 people are attending.  That's a whole lotta cookies.

I am wearing... pjs!

I am creating... Trying to decide between Trello, Workflowy, Sticky Notes, Kanban, and Wunderlist as a way to keep track of what I need to do.  Part of why I feel sooo overwhelmed is that I have a lot on my plate, and minimal executive function to keep track of it all.  My old brain injury is rearing it's ugly head and lots of stuff is falling through the cracks.  I have about 40% follow-thru on most stuff right now, because of it.  That is all a part of the vicious cycle that keeps beating down my ability to cope and feel good about myself.

I am going... To a picnic later today with our Ingress friends.  I am looking forward to it - they are a fun bunch of people.

I am wondering... About the great horned owl I heard outside our bedroom window the other night.  It was really neat to hear, but I've never heard an owl in our neighborhood before.  Makes me worry about the neighbor's cat that likes to prowl around.

I am reading... I just finished reading The Bishop's Wife, by Mette Ivie Harrison.  I love murder mysteries, and to add the Mormonism element to it was the icing on the cake, because Mormonism is a mystery all in its self.  I just like reading about things I know little about so that I learn something new.  I read it in two days.  I haven't been lost in a book like that in months.  My husband hates it because I completely ignore everything else when I am absorbed in a book, but I feel it is good for me from time to time.  I need time away from myself, lol...

I am hoping... to get in another 10K steps today.  Yesterday was the first day I managed that in I don't know how long.  I got myself a new FitBit Charge for my birthday earlier this month, and I am loving it!

I am looking forward to... the picnic of course, but not much else this week.  It's a busy week coming up full of stressssssss.  :/  So I am looking forward to next weekend.

I am learning... how to juggle.  Just kidding.  I don't think there are any spare brain cells to think about learning anything right now.

I am hearing... Ghoststories by Coldplay on the headphones, but unfortunately it does not drown out the kids arguing in the kitchen as Rylan is making pancakes and Colin, Owen and Jordan are discussing Geometry Dash.

Around the house... Dog hair.  Lots and lots of dog hair.  Abby's seasonal shed is in full swing.

I am pondering... shaving her.  No, not really.  I made that mistake with my first husky, Kai.  My dad helped my shave her, and she wouldn't look at me for weeks.  I think she felt embarrassed.  Dean keeps threatening to take Abby to the groomers.  I don't think she would like that at. all.

One of my favorite things... A clean kitchen counter.  I managed to get two different areas cleaned up this past week.  The feeling was awesome.  And then kids and husband ruined it all.

A few plans for the rest of the week... Rylan begins a new year of dance this week.  She is taking ballet and jazz again, and luckily they are on the same day, back-to-back, which means one less round trip for me.  yay!  Also, Owen begins his new season of Cub Scouts this week.  I am stepping into the new role of assistant leader of his den this year, because the one from last year quit abruptly early last spring, I am an idiot/glutton for punishment and also because no other parent offered to.  Luckily, Mark, the den leader, is a well-seasoned scout and knows how to run things pretty well - I'm just an extra pair of hands, really.  It is a small group, so hopefully it won't be too much work.  Also, the BSA does an excellent of spelling out everything to do in the manual.  Unlike the Girl Scouts that are so disorganized it's pointless.


Here is a picture for thought I am sharing...



My husband, Dean, celebrated birthday #45 on Friday.  The kids and I drove down to his work to take him out to lunch at Oskar Blues.  Yum!



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Monday, August 17, 2015

Doing nothing about everything


I will say that life is good.  Just...good.  I've thoroughly enjoyed my summer of just 'being'.  We had the most minimal schedule - ever.  And it was good.  Actually, it was great.  It was also just about all I could handle.  Last year just sent me into an abyss that seemed to have no bottom.  I'm still working on finding the light.  I came across this quote today, and it is the first thing I have read in a long, long time that adequately explains how I feel most of the time.

Having anxiety and depression is like being scared and tired at the same time.

My oldest is entering high school in T-minus 36 hours, and I feel scared.  Scared that I didn't do enough, teach him enough, counsel him enough - yet I'm tired of constantly worrying about it.  I'm tired of sounding like the broken record I don't want to be.  Tired of thinking about the needs of the kids, when I should be placing some importance on my own needs.  Parenting is overwhelming to me at times - the precarious act of being scared AND tired, constantly.

It's the fear of failure but no urge to be productive.

This is a thousand times worse when you are a stay-at-home parent and a home educator.  It's the time I spend on Pinterest finding all sorts of activities I will never actually do.  It's the evil of perfectionism.  It's my 5 year old that is still working on potty-training.  It's my 7 year old that is still learning to read.  It's my 15 year old that has horrendous table manners.  I take all of these failures very personally.  Even though they are not about me at all, and technically not my failures and the fact that the 7 year old can't read yet is actually pretty normal.  It circles back to scared and tired.  I'm scared that my 15 year old will blow it on the first day of school by spewing food on his classmates during the lunch hour and forever making the wrong impression.  But, I have a serious lack of urge to do anything about it, because, after 10 years of lecturing him on a daily basis about the basics of mealtime decency, he still doesn't 'get it'.  Same with the 5 year old that still has no clue about when to make the effort to get to the bathroom.  It's the half-finished paint job in the open floor plan livingroom/kitchen that is stalled out because all of a sudden I am unsure about the paint color.  Fuck it.  Old spaghetti sauce stains are better than the wrong color of beige, right?  

It's wanting friends but hate socialising.

Facebook is my own worst enemy.  It's the friends that post pictures of fun that doesn't include you, but if they actually had, you wouldn't really have wanted to go anyway because of a thousand different reasons that have nothing to do with not wanting to see your friends.  It's the desperate need to share a coffee with a dear friend, but fear of rejection so you don't ask.  And besides, you're too tired to go through the hassle.

It's wanting to be alone, but not wanting to be lonely.

I'm an introvert, so spending time alone is almost preferred.  Except when the anxiety creeps in that I'm alone too much and afraid that everyone thinks I'm standoffish.  And so then I am a failure at socializing properly, yet to work on it would require effort.

It's caring about everything, then caring about nothing.

I care that my children are fed and clothed and cared for.  Yet....there are days I don't really give a crap if they eat nothing but carrot sticks and popsicles, stay in their pjs and go to bed late.  Some days it is just too difficult to keep the plates spinning.  Ok.. Most days.

It's feeling everything at once then feeling paralysingly numb.

You read about the latest atrocity dealt to innocent people by various terrorist groups.  You feel helpless, hopeless, deeply sad and distressed... and then you feel numb.  You feel the stress of doctor appointments, committee tasks, emails, deadlines, activity schedules - no more so than the average person has to deal with, but for you, it all comes too fast and furious, and you can't process it all, so you retreat to your room and take a nap.  And stay there.  The kids are yelling downstairs....  The dog is barking to be let in...  The cellphone is downstairs but you can hear the ping of text messages coming through.  And still you do not move.  

This has been my mental health struggle for the past several months.  My don't-give-a-shit days number far too many still, but there is gradual improvement.  At the end of the month I will be seeing a new counselor/psychiatrist, and I am pretty sure there will be a med tweak.  I'm currently on Prozac, but I just don't like the side-effects.  I feel 'flat', with little affect, my energy is super low and my weight is going up.  

Now, for the good news, I bought myself a new FitBit for my birthday last week, and I love how it motivates me.  I know that getting back into a regular exercise routine will help me in numerous ways - as long as the fear of failure doesn't get in the way.  I also made the decision to take homeschooling by the horns again - on my own, without Calvert.  I feel like this is a risky move - given my don't-give-a-shit attitude of late, but I can't take any more pressure like I had to put up with last year.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A reflection on Calvert


I'm free!!!

The past few weeks have been pretty hairy.  It was an absolute fight to the finish to get Calvert wrapped up for the year.  I have been keeping mum about Calvert because...well... it's complicated.  It is a sorta-like/hate relationship.  It is everything I despise about one-size-fits-all education, yet it's everything I like about keeping myself accountable and on track.  Which I did a HORRIBLE job at this year.  I can't drag three children, kicking and screaming all the way, on this road to intellectual enlightenment (ha!) if they continuously misplace their books, can never find their pencils, and not get the big picture of what this is all for in the first place.

What we did accomplish this year:

Jordan learned to take notes.  I learned that it is a good idea for me to teach the skill of note-taking.  He learned that turning in late assignments affects your grade.  I learned that I hate having to scan in assignments at 11:59 pm to make the midnight deadline.  He learned that writing isn't so bad.  In fact, Jordan realized that he loved writing.  I learned that Jordan had actually been listening to me for the past eight years every time we approached writing, composition, grammar and so forth - because his 'voice' in his writing is fantastic and he really knows how to construct a good sentence.  Sentence diagramming is difficult and makes us both tear our hair out.  (The geek in me though secretly loves it). NaNoWriMo, assigned by his Calvert teacher, was especially helpful in drawing out his writing voice.  Writing a short story was something I would never in a million years have asked him to do, and yet it was because of Calvert that we both made this discovery!   He learned algebra.  I learned that I still remember algebra. (happy dance)  Jordan learned how to type faster.  falls out of chair laughing.  He went from 25 wpm to an astounding 29 wpm! Jordan earned his 8th grade diploma, and will be moving on to public high school next year.

Rylan learned that dropping your pencil on the floor 518,397 times a day does not get you out of your schoolwork.  She learned how to spell 'people' and 'because'.  Rylan learned multiplication, just don't ask her to do it at anytime other than when she is in the mood.  Which is never.  Rylan learned to contort her body into 37 different pretzel shapes while sitting in her chair, all of which face away from the desk, and coincidentally, away from her schoolwork.  Rylan read two novels this year - and has quite the reading pile for the summer.  She also took an avid interest in ASL, after reading a short story in her reading anthology about a deaf boy going to a concert.  I may need to pursue this for her.  Rylan loved her online teacher and her classmates, so she wants to do this all over again next year.  The social bits, of course.  NOT the schoolwork.  

Owen learned to read.  This accomplishment alone is what kept me going through the darkest of schooling hours this year.  Several times in the past couple of weeks, he has read signs around town, carefully sounding things out.  This makes my heart sing.  He loves his online teacher, his class, and anything to do with math.  He has learned to like holding a pencil, and writing with it.  (just a little).  He loves to draw and paint.  He is more than willing to sit down and do schoolwork, as long as it doesn't interfere with his Minecraft or lego building time.  Which is never.  Which is why I can't ever get him to work with me for longer than 2 minutes without a fight.

This year has been full of tears, lots of yelling on everyone's parts, lots of high-fives, cajoling, swearing (under my breath), deal-making, begging, pleading, a-ha moments... unfortunately the bad is far out-weighing the good.  It's partly the program and partly me.  I've been lax, lazy, disinterested, and fighting my own battles.  The spillover has not been pretty.  Some serious soul-searching needs to take place this summer about what the next step will be.

All I know is that this is not how I envisioned how our homeschool experience would go.  Eight years into this journey, my (our) primary purpose has always been and always will be to put childhood first.  Play (and not the screen type) has as much - if not more importance in shaping a child's mind, than worksheets, descriptive paragraphs and addition problems.  I don't like the complicated, regimented, competitive and petty environment of public schools - in the younger grades, especially.  At the high school level, these social stepladders do have *some* merit, I suppose, when it comes to beginning to discover who you are and what you are made of.  I also know that these lessons don't only happen within the confines of a classroom.

The work Calvert requires of the kids is not inspiring, with the exception of Jordan's reading curriculum.  Hands down, that was fabulous stuff that has helped us cover so much literary knowledge this year.  Otherwise, the caliber of the rest of the curriculum is... meh.  I am pretty disappointed, actually.  It was actually painful to shelve all of our tried-and-true stuff last year when it came time to unbox the Calvert books after they arrived.  Throughout the entire school year I constantly found myself referring back to our other curriculum for this and that, because it was just so much better.  I am confident in Jordan's abilities because of what we used in the past.  Jordan has been the model student all these years, as we have traveled this homeschooling route.  He's done the work when asked and without question, and performs very well when the time comes to assess his knowledge and skills.  The younger three kids have so many issues I don't even know where to begin.  In reflecting on their behavior this past year, a lot of it comes down to a sense of entitlement that they have.  They feel that they are entitled to their free time, so schoolwork has become a secondary, painful experience for them - and having very boring, worksheet-style learning as the primary source of instruction is NOT helping that situation.

So I have a lot of thinking to do.  I'm doing some major decompressing at the moment, which is good for me.  Our calendar is completely blank, with the exception of a weekly violin lessons and the occasional field trip.  I'm not even having the kids do swim lessons.  I can tell I am feeling more than a little shell-shocked from the stress of this school year.  This is a huge sign for me that maaaaaybe Calvert isn't the best fit for us.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Simple Woman's Daybook Entry



Outside my window... It is a gray, drizzly kind of day, and I love it.  We haven't had many of these this spring, so I am more than happy to curl up with a hot cup of coffee and a book.  Call me crazy, but we didn't get nearly enough snowy days this winter.

I am thinking... Oh my goodness.  If I had a penny for every deep thought that I've had over the past couple of months I would be a rich woman.  I didn't express those thoughts here, though, because they were more fragmented than ever, and they came and went like the tide.  I've been experimenting with finding the right dose of Prozac that could keep me functional, not TOO 'flat', yet safely on this side of the depression abyss, and other additional measures as well .  I think I've found the right Rx (for me): 30 mg/day of Prozac, B-12, 2-3 daily walks, plenty of sunshine, very little social media (Facebook *maybe* once a week) and very little exposure to the news (akin to living under a rock).  The Prozac was hard to figure out, initially, but I knew I was on the right track when the panic attacks stopped, the racing heart stopped and I could successfully fend off a downward spiral when exposed to something negative.  Anything used to trigger it: a potentially negative personal comment, a sad news story, a bill, an email that required action from me, a Facebook post of friends having fun with other friends (a huge cue for immediate "exclusion" feelings and subsequent pity-party).  I've found that (for the most-part) I have this almost tangible sensation of potential triggers just rolling off my back now, but I still do everything I can to limit my exposure to them in the first place.

As for the functional bit, I'm 'here' and mostly present, but I am still struggling with a very potent don't-give-a-shit attitude.  Kid's behind in their lessons?  so what?  Dirty dishes, dirty laundry, dirty house?  Yep.  And?  Unopened mail...about two month's worth.  And your point is??  If there is any drawback to the meds, it's this.  I just. don't. give. a. rat's. ass..  I'll get it done.  When I get it done.  Don't make me work on your imaginary deadline.

Depression is a nasty business.  What am I so depressed about?  That is a hard question to answer when I have to really struggle to think about when was it that I last felt really good about how my life was going.  I think that the last time I felt the most 'together' and happy was the time period while I was getting my college degree in 2000-2003.  My personal life wasn't all roses as I struggled with huge surges of good and bad feelings as my then live-in boyfriend of 8 years had yet to propose to me, but my school life was awesome.  It is hard to put into words, but the 'feeling' of it coincides with a popular concept: flow.  When you engage in your work, when you live it, breathe it, don't notice the time pass, forget to eat and your brain is constantly churning with ideas, you are in flow.  I was in flow the entire time I was in school.  My classes, my writing, my projects, my lessons.  All flow.  It was the most incredible experience.  I graduated magna cum laude, and yes, I worked very hard to earn that, but it didn't feel like work, you know?  And then it ended.  The flow ended.  My boyfriend proposed (under duress), we graduated, we got jobs, we moved and bought a bigger house, we got married in April 2004 and he left me three weeks later, then I found out he had been having an affair for the entire year prior, my teaching job was good but the principle was horrible....  The flow was gone, my self-esteem was completely shot, and it all went to hell.

BUT, the last ten years have been very, very good to me.  I met Dean in 2005, we got married five months later and became an instant family with his son Jordan, then had three more kids of our own.  We are happy - very happy.  Our relationship has always been healthy and loving and the kids are smart, funny, silly and obnoxious.  I get the immense joy of staying home and homeschooling.  I mean that - it brings me immense joy.  At first I had to work through feelings of loss and inequality when I lost my job and became a non-wage earner for the first time ever, but Dean has been unbelievably supportive.  I've grown into my role and I relish it.

Despite how good these years have been, I've never found my emotional footing again...and I'm still not there yet. I think that is where the depression comes from.  I mean, how could it not?  Picture ten years ago - and I am absolutely emotionally crushed.  I don't know what I did wrong the first time around with marriage, and then I am extremely lucky to find Dean and fall in love again.  And I am afraid, every day, of screwing up and losing it all over again.  The fear is always there.  And then I added more to the pile.  Motherhood.  Homeschooling.  I always worry that I am not good enough.  I think that years and years of feeling that way have taken their toll.  The panic attacks started.  The thoughts that I just wanted to run away.  Or end my life.  That is where I drew the line.  Never were the feelings strong enough to act on them, but the fact that they were there meant it was time to get help.

These past few months have been much better.  Like I said, the panic attacks have ended.  Thoughts of suicide have ended.  I don't go into tail-spins anymore.  My PMS isn't absolute hell anymore.  But, I don't like the 'flatness', I experience.  I am slow to act from an emotional state.  A child crying?  It takes me longer to muster an appropriate response.  I recently had a falling out with my mom, due to my behavior.  It has been resolved, but I am still slow to recover lost ground with her.

My thoughts about depression have run deep and wide over the past few months, but I didn't feel like sharing them, and I didn't think anyone would care to read them.  Life is better.  I look forward to the day when I feel absolute joy again, without any heaviness in my heart.

And, it is a joy to report that for the first time in the past 11 years, April has been a totally different experience for me.  This year spring meant something entirely different.  I have let go of April and what it used to mean - and that is a huge step in the right direction.

I am thankful... for my husband.  I am so glad that even though he went through absolute hell in his first marriage, that he can be a rock for me and let me work through what I needed to work through.  He has always been there with words of love, encouragement and wisdom.  We are approaching our ten year wedding anniversary, and it feels like a real mile-stone for me in so many ways.  As the barriers and walls around my vulnerabilities fall away, I feel like my connection to him has deepened, immensely.  Our meeting and courtship may have been short and unconventional, but we've made it work all this time and formed a relationship that can only be described as a true, united partnership firmly grounded in love and equality.  I thank the Universe every day that Dean is in my life.

From the Learning Rooms... I still have a like/hate relationship with Calvert.  Note I did not say 'love'.  Goodness this year has been a struggle.  We have gone through tears, gnashing of teeth and more pencils than I can count.  It has been a good experience and the kids have learned a lot, but I am not sure to what expense yet, and I am not sure it has been worth it.  I have renewed our enrollment for next year, but I am still on the fence if we will for sure continue with it or not.

In the kitchen... Pumpkin bread this morning.  A cold, rainy morning calls for pumpkin bread.

I am wearing... pj's and a sweater.

I am creating... Lots of projects on hold until we are finished with Calvert, so nothing really to report.

I am going... to take Jordan out shortly to purchase a birthday present for a friend, and then deliver him to the party.

I am wondering... Why dogs must circle three times before lying down.

I am reading... "Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus & Sharpen Your Creative Mind",  published by 99U/Behance, edited by Jocelyn K. Glei.    It is a compendium of different authors all giving advice about working through distractions, getting into a routine and creating healthy habits with email, social media and making time for creative/productive work a priority.  One of the best passages I've come across is this, in regards to why email is so addictive: 
"I think that e-mail and social networks are a great example of random reinforcement.  Usually, when we pull the lever to check our e-mail, it's not that interesting.  But, from time to time, it's exciting.  And that excitement, which happens at random intervals, keeps us coming back to check our e-mail all the time." - Dan Ariely

That is soooo Facebook.  Most of the time it is ads, political or social rants, or brag/selfie fests.  (kid-bragging is okay in my book, as long as it isn't excessive).  Only every once in awhile is it a truly funny story or captivating thought, or a good way to keep tabs on what relatives and friends are doing.  I have unfollowed a slew of 'friends' in the past few weeks, just so that I could curtail what I saw in my feed, and so I could increase the odds of seeing something good or worthwhile when I pulled the lever, so to speak. :)

In the garden... Just bought a lot of veggie plants yesterday.  Sixteen tomatoes, 4 peppers and 4 jalapenos.  It is too rainy to work in the garden today, but over the week I am sure there will be some sunny days to get them in, and put up wall-o-waters to keep them safe from frost until mid-May.

I am hoping... My motivation is pretty high today (hence the blog post ;), so I hope to get at least one mail pile sorted and dealt with, and a lesson or two finished with each kid.

I am looking forward to... a family bike ride with the scout troop tomorrow night to Dairy Queen, and then next weekend is the first family fun run for the upcoming season of Healthy Kids Fun Runs.  I think I can slow jog for most of it.

I am learning... About a new presentation program that is similar to Power Point, called Prezi.  Rylan has a presentation to give in her online class in a couple of weeks.  Her presentation will be on artistic styles, and she will show some of her completed projects.

I am hearing... Coldplay's Ghost Stories.  It is my go-to background writing music.

Around the house...  Colin is using a pool floatie as a hula hoop (he must have retrieved it from the garage), Owen is building with Legos, Jordan is pulling together his scout uniform for an event later today, Dean is doing the same, and Colin is now stealing the rest of my coffee.  :/

I am pondering... the advantages of writing out your feelings, vs. holding them, processing them, and then letting them go.  Both seem advantageous.

One of my favorite things... A rainy day.

A few plans for the rest of the week... The bike ride, the fun run and of course a bunch of schoolwork.

Here is a picture for thought I am sharing...




Have I mentioned how much I love the rain?



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Saturday, February 7, 2015

A Boy Turns 5...


I never did post about your birthday last year..  I was so excited for that birthday because you were turning four.  Four is my most absolute favorite age.  Fours are curious, increasingly independent, creative, caring and their verbal skills grow by leaps and bounds.  And you did all of those things! and more....  Last year nearly killed me - about a thousand times over.  It nearly killed you, as well.  If anything, it is amazing that you were lucky enough to reach five.  ;)  Your never-ending, almost suicidal curiosity put my graying-hair into overdrive.  Your never-ending potty-training, mess-making, getting-into-things-you-shouldn't put me back on anti-depressants.  That's okay.  We'll get there buddy.  Let's be glad that you don't go to preschool, where the potty training would present a serious problem.  Your difficulty in this department gives me a clue as to just how BUSY your mind is.

Five will be a year of huge growth for you.  You are building with Legos like a champ.  You love to draw, you love to count and you repeat the things Owen is working on with his schoolwork.  I think that once you and I are ready to start formal school work later this year, you will do really well.

I love your love of life.  You are the epitome of 'gusto'.  You rode your first roller coasters a few weeks ago (Space Mountain was your favorite) when we visited Lego Land and Disneyland, and you LOVED it.  You loved the ocean, but oddly enough, only your toes got wet - as that was enough for you.  You watched the Star Wars trilogy (eps. 4,5 and 6) for the first time during the trip to CA and back, and you were hooked.  Star Wars-themed play has been a daily event ever since.  In a few weeks you will go skiing for the first time.  I will stay home with Owen, but I will worry about you every second.  I know you are breakable - you broke your leg last year.  As long as I live I will always think of you as vulnerable...fragile.  You are a big, strong boy with a big heart, but I can't shake that urge to be overprotective.  You insist on climbing tall trees, jumping down from high places, swimming in deep water, and constantly elude my radar and ride in the car without fastening your carseat belts.  Mayhem is your middle name.

This year will be another wild ride, I'm sure...

update: I've now posted a post-dated blog post about Colin's 4th.  I was riddled with guilt over that draft that has been sitting in my blog queue for a year now.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Driving Home

We drove home over yesterday and today.  Colin, Rylan and I aren't feeling too swift and I think we are all a little worn out from the fun.  The drive was uneventful and full of beautiful scenery - after we reached Utah.  I can't say much that is nice about the scenery in California.  The mountains are scrubby and plain, and the high desert is sort of plain as well.  The Joshua trees are pretty, though.  We spent the night in Cedar City again, and then made the drive over the mountains to get home.  Colorado has had a rough few days of bone-chilling cold, so I am glad we were in California for the duration!

Dean and I finished all of Serial, and then combed the internet looking for any updates.  The open ending was frustrating, but I was already prepared for that since it was splashed all over social media.  I think Jay had a hand in it, and that Adnan had more to do with it than he is saying.  It will be interesting to see what the Innocence Project turns up.

We're glad to be home, but so glad that we had the opportunity to finally vacation with our family!


Friday, January 2, 2015

Disneyland


Today was the day I had been looking forward to for the past several months.  I have been anticipating taking the little kids to Disneyland for a long, long time.  We took Jordan when he was 6 years old and Rylan was a mere 11 weeks old, so it has been a long time!  It took nearly an hour and a half before we even entered the park.  The parking was ridiculous, the lines were ridiculous and the crowds were unbelievable.  The grand spending total for a day at Disney including parking, 6 tickets, two meals, four hats and one toy each was around $1200.  Ouch.  Thank you to grandma Judy for the Christmas money for the tickets, and thank you to the aunties and Aunt Karen and Uncle Steve for the gift money for the toys.  The kids had a blast picking out their stuff!

It was a little difficult negotiating which rides to ride and so forth with such a diverse age group in our family, but with the smart move by getting fast passes, and some trickery to get Owen onto rides, we made it work.  Poor Owen.  He gets easily rattled by watching rides.  It was to our advantage that a lot of the rides were sort of hidden from view, so we could easily fool him into thinking it wasn't so bad.  His imagination gets the best of him.  Here he is on the platform on the Matterhorn after he rode it.  He loved it, of course, but for the entire hour we were waiting in line, we kept telling him that people were screaming because they were afraid of getting wet, not because the ride was scary.  The only scary part of the ride was the Yeti.



We waited an hour to get on It's a Small World, and it was worth it, since it was decorated differently for the holidays.  Here is a group shot of almost everyone on our boat as we head into the ride.  Dean and my brother were in search of the last round of fast passes for the day.


Another round of trickery was involved to get Owen onto Splash Mountain.  He was fooled until the very end, when we went up, up, up before we went down, down, down.  He was seated right in front of me, and as we made the climb up, I could here him say, "I have a bad feeling about this!!".  It was all good in the end.  Here is screen shot of the other boat of family: Drew, Rylan, Jordan, Connor, my brother Kirk and SIL Michelle.  I love Rylan's expression...lol.


We wandered over to Tomorrowland and gave Space Mountain a try.  Go figure, the scariest way to ride a roller coaster - in complete darkness - thrilled Owen to pieces!  He said over and over, "It's like we're in space!!!!"  I'm so glad they all rode it and loved it.  We ended the night with a few more rides and then a parting picture in front of the castle.  The kids lasted all day with minimal meltdowns, which was amazing.  So glad we all had the chance to spend the day together and share in the fun!