Friday, November 30, 2012

Friends and Fun!

Yesterday represented one of the things I love most about homeschooling. Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures because I was too busy enjoying the moments.

My kids and I were invited to join two of my friends and their children for breakfast at one of their houses. Each of our families provided something to eat. There was bacon and french toast and stuff to make buckeyes with. While the kids played the moms cooked. Gathered together at a big table, the meal was enjoyed. Then we went for a walk around the property. We walked around a pond surrounded by muck, which made for some great entertainment. The ice was thick enough that the kids wanted to see if they could break it with sticks and rocks. Then off on a trail all around the land, we went. That was much needed exercise for me! Especially since I was carrying my youngest. After enjoying nature together we went inside so the kids could dunk the peanut buttery insides of the buckeyes into melted chocolate and swirl them in sprinkles. They were allow to devour a couple each, and then went out to play for a while, while moms got to talk. It amazes me how well they all get along even with age differences. The kids came back in for a rest and spent their time cutting out paper snowflakes. Lots of creative designs, there. Then back out to play some more.

Not having family around, my family doesn't get to do things like this often. I'm so thankful we have friends that we can do this with and that, with all of us homeschooling, we have more days to choose from when trying to work around each others schedules. We are certainly looking forward to doing this again!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Menacing Chickens

For today's fun afternoon, I had hoped to be able to play outside with the kids. We went out front to play tag, but realized we couldn't play there because there were chickens out there. If you run, they chase you and start pecking at you and stuff. So we walked over to the barn area, hoping to play there. The chickens followed us. We walked down to our garden, but still a menacing rooster followed us. It wasn't until we got down to our make-shift shooting range that the rooster stopped following us. I've explained to my husband that something must be done about this situation. Our kids should be able to play outside without having to worry about whether the roosters will attack them or not. I haven't really seen the hens do it, but they act like they would. We tried to play a game of tag down by the shooting range, but it didn't work out so well, because it's hilly over there. So then I tried to race my 5 year old, but running while pregnant when you never run, without warming up first, is a bad idea. Eventually we sat in the sun and played a game I made up when the girls were little called the sing song game. We just take turns singing. Sadly, my girls are too shy to do it anymore and it was cold just sitting there, so back to the house we went.

I thought we'd come in and bake pumpkin chocolate chip muffins for tomorrow's breakfast, but the girls decided they don't like them and didn't want to bake them. I allowed my sons to go play on their own in another room and sat my girls down for a "meeting". I explained to them my desire to start having more fun together and asked them for suggestions. We spent the next hour or so tossing around ideas. Then they went to play with a friend.

Hopefully tomorrow, we will be able to do something we can all enjoy at the same time. Thankfully, for them, the "meeting" was fun. They love sharing their ideas.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Painting by the Fireplace

Today has been a lazier day for us. The kids did school work and hung out with each other watching a couple of movies, while I worked on some research I was doing.

We've been so busy with stuff lately that I realized no one has been having that much fun as a family lately so I've decided that I want to change that and try and make sure we do at least 1 fun thing together every day. Today, I chose painting. The kids and I love to paint. I pulled out watercolors and construction paper for the boys and canvas and acrylics for the girls and I. It was their first time working with canvas. I gave them a theme to choose from, either winter or Christmas. We don't have as many decorations as I thought we did so I figured this could be a way to add to what we do have. Yesterday's fun activity was supposed to be decorating.

The youngest painted a little but my other boy decided he wasn't going to paint, because I didn't give him a canvas of his own. I suppose I should let him give it a try next time, if I can get to the store to pick up smaller ones. At first, my younger daughter didn't listen to me and chose to continue watching her movie. It wasn't until her older sister finished her painting that the younger one came in and realized we weren't just painting on paper. She is still working on her masterpiece right now.

My older daughter had hoped to paint a picture of a cardinal in the sunset. She can be very particular and quite the perfectionist, though. When her bird wasn't coming out right she decided to turn it into a plane. I tried to complement her creativity and said it must be cardinal airlines. That seemed to cheer her up a little. Then she tried to make mountains, but didn't like the look so she turned them into volcanoes and said it was Hawaii at Christmas time. I convinced her to make people. She chose to make them running away screaming. It is kind of funny.

My younger daughter just finished. Hers is a Christmas tree. She was planning to add people but decided her tree was too big and she didn't want to paint people over it at all. She is happy with it, though.

Mine is just a winter scape. A log home, in a pine tree forest, under the moon, stars, and falling snow. Honestly, I wonder if the home is too cartoon like for the feel of the picture, but I'm not a trained artist, just someone who enjoys painting, so I can't expect it to be fabulous! I do like it and think it does add a little something to the wall. Certainly better than a bare spot.

What made the painting even better was doing it together on the floor by our fireplace. The warmth and ambiance really spoke to the theme. If only there had been snow outside too.

Finding Joy in Impatient Moments

This is a virtue I strive to strengthen.

Time and time again I am told by mothers, whose children have grown, how they wish they had cherished motherhood more. They wish they had lived in the moment more or were able to know then what they know now. They share this information, usually on deaf ears. In one ear and out the other as it is repeated over and over each generation.

The fact is, I don't know if any parent will ever pass away saying "I got the most, and gave the most, I ever could've as a parent." That doesn't mean we can't strive to have more of those positive moments that moms and dads of the past long for.

I've learned, part of it, is how we react to situations that arise. When my girls were younger, my best friend once told me that she loved how instead of beating my children when I was obviously getting to my breaking point, I would begin to tickle them lovingly and within moments we would all be laughing and I'd be much calmer. After all, laughter is the best medicine. Now that doesn't mean I haven't ever spanked my kids, yelled and screamed at them, or cracked at all. I have! We all have, as far as I can assume. I was just determined to do it less than I might have, if I didn't take control of my reaction to whatever was making me so impatient, upset, or even down right angry.

Over the years, I've become a lot slower with my anger and impatience and I've learned things that trigger me. If I'm hot, hungry, tired, feeling overly pressured and unheard, lacking control over certain things, in the middle of something that has my complete focus, claustrophobic, etc... I begin to feel panicked inside or at least annoyed and impatient. I've learned to express myself verbally to my children and tell them, "This is happening and I feel very _____ because of it."

We were at the grocery store on Wednesday (the day before Thanksgiving) I took all 4 of my children with me. I usually do. My youngest kept climbing out of the seat in the cart. My other younger one was running around trying to help me get things, I did not need or want, and asking if he could weigh them. The store was crowded. The parking lot wasn't completely fully, but still I don't do lots of people, which is one reason I don't live in a city. I could actually hear people complaining about my older 3 going around the produce section. People just couldn't believe it. (Sorry, I like my kids helping me shop. It teaches them how to!) The older 2 were just grabbing things that I asked them to. They do this for me all the time. It makes the trip shorter! Anyway. On top of that, I was feeling thirsty. I began to feel very stressed and frustrated. I almost cracked when my youngest tore my grocery list which was already wrinkly and hard to focus on. My oldest could tell, I was starting to lose my cool and she did everything she could to help us get through the store as fast as we could. If I turned to get something we needed she was right there ready to get her youngest brother back in the seat. Yes, I had him buckled. He kept squirming his way out of the belt. Didn't matter how tight I made it. If I needed something and she could get it, she would. She also helped keep her younger brother near by so he didn't run off. Though there were a few times he did and I raised my voice to him, once, louder than I ever have. At one point I was so stressed I almost started crying! (Hey, I'm pregnant! haha) And I told my kids I was sorry, I just wish I had been prepared enough to shop earlier. Once we were out to our truck and had everything and everyone loaded, I was fine again. I'm sure the whole trip was quite the show for the people around me. The nice part of it was, I never did crack. I've never screamed at my kids, or hit them, dragged them, or anything like that. I've seen moms do that for lesser offenses at stores before. Instead I accepted that, though some of it was what my sons were doing, most of it was personal. A lot of times when I have a rough time like that, I try to think of *something* positive to make me laugh and smile. This time I thought of how thankful I was for such helpful daughters and a son who was just as eager to be helpful. I was thankful for how quickly we were able to get through the store and that we got everything off our list. I was thankful that I have been able to teach my children how to grocery shop and that I normally can take all the kids to the store and have it not be a huge dramatic event. In those thoughts I found peace and I found joy, knowing that even in my weakness, God had brought me strength. I found joy in my children and the great blessing that they are.

Last night our church had a potluck meeting. I had been offered help, but ended up not utilizing it. I walked down the food table, three plates in my hand, trying to get stuff for my sons and myself without spilling the plates. Then I took the boys and sat down. At first they were so well behaved. Then my youngest decided it was time to run around and go places he wasn't supposed to. So instead of eating, I was chasing him. Finally I sat down with him and just held him. He flailed about, throwing himself this way and that, trying desperately to escape. I was trying to eat and have a grown up conversation. The nursery would be open soon, but wasn't quite yet. I was getting so frustrated. And then I realized, I have a choice. I can get mad and lose my cool or I can just laugh because really this time will pass and it really is pretty funny.I chose to laugh. As soon as I did, the others around me started to as well and I felt less embarrassed and annoyed knowing that the truth is, my kid is acting his age. What else can I expect from him. He calmed down a little and made silly sheepish faces when everyone started laughing. Faces that I find great joy in. A moment later the nursery opened, I thanked God, and took my boys down to it, so I could *finally* finish eating. One plus to his "misbehavior" was that I didn't hit the dessert table. I really shouldn't have, especially considering I'd already had ice cream after lunch as well as a mini reeses cup and 2 kit kat bars when we left the grocery store. My kids are sweet. They share their candy with me sometimes. I don't usually get them candy.

It is so easy to let our frustrations, impatience, annoyances bring us to a place of anger and negative reactions. When we take a moment to just think before we act, to remember that this is *one* moment in time and the next one could be much better, it can make it so much easier to find joy. Joy in our impatient moments. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Saturday after Thanksgiving 2012

It has been a very busy semester. We've stayed mostly on target with our lessons. I struggle with getting my oldest to do her math, no matter what I do. She tells me she doesn't understand it and it is too hard, but then she is "magically" able to do it. She is already "behind" and I'm trying to get her back up to speed. I just wish she could see how interesting math really can be. Any good applied math curriculum out there that teach these fundamentals using real life, every day experiences?  My younger daughter, on the other hand is excelling at math but her spelling could certainly use some growth. I'm leaning more and more into the Charolette Mason style of learning for them. And they do like that. Of course, it being near the end of this term, I'm already looking at curriculum changes and things I want to get and try out. My older son is loving his "school work" when we do some. I mostly read to him and from time to time give him worksheets. I know he's already learned a lot even if he hasn't learned things he would've in a traditional preschool. Even my 2 year old is growing and learning constantly. After all that is how we are made. And that is one of my goals. To teach my children to love learning. To help them to grow up with skills, abilities, knowledge, confidence, and so much more. Even if it isn't "traditional".

I don't know if I mentioned that we now have sheep, chickens, and turkeys. My husband braved the challenge and recently prepped and cooked 2 of our chickens and one of our turkeys. The turkey was the main attraction of our Thanksgiving meal and it was the BEST turkey I think I've ever had. Granted, my husband is a REALLY good cook, but that bird was so tender and had good flavor. The chickens were good too, with beautifully colored meat, but a little chewy.  We're wondering if we waited longer than normal. They were on the bigger side. I think he said 5 or 6 lbs and that usually people have them when they are 3 or 4lbs. I don't know. Still better than store bought. Our hens have also started laying eggs. We usually get about 2 a day. We're pretty excited about that. They have rich colored yolks and taste pretty good. We do have one rooster our daughters have named the evil outsider. He never acts up when my husband is out there, but the other day I went to check for eggs and feed and water them and he kept walking to get behind me and then flew up with feet aimed right at me and was clawing and pecking at me. He also walks right up to our back door and stares in the window at us. I don't like him very much.

I handed a first drafted manuscript to a friend of mine. She is an editor. I've tried to have friends read and critique this, and other projects, before and nobody ever really does it. I was so glad when she did and gave me tons of great feed back. I look forward to making time to really delve into bringing rich life to the book. Someday, I hope to get it and others, published.

I did not participate in NaNoWriMo this year, like I have been the past few. In fact that manuscript is what I wrote during my first attempt at NaNoWriMo. I had so much going on and have been so tired from the pregnancy, that I knew I wouldn't be able to make time for it.

Speaking of my pregnancy. I am halfway through gestating baby #5. Pretty sure there is only one baking away. Although, sometimes, a part of me thinks it would be neat if there were twins. Crazy? I know! But I've had a 10lb baby (pretty much), home births, a breech birth at home, I figure the next challenge is twins, right? haha I am planning a home birth this time around as well. In fact, I'm keeping this whole journey as "old fashioned" as I can. So far, no doppler use. I actually bought a fetoscope to listen with at home and that's what the midwives are using as well. No u/s, either. If there becomes a concern and the midwives feel it is necessary, I will get one, but things seem to be going pretty easily. No excessive testing. Been there done that, don't like being poked and prodded. In fact, aside from having my blood drawn to check my iron levels at a clinic, I haven't had to enter a hospital at all for this pregnancy. I have been able to feel baby squirming around in there since 10 or 11 weeks. Growing normally. Aside from being tired a lot and my expanding belly, I don't think I have many other symptoms. Wait, I take that back. I am somewhat intolerant of things I'd normally try really hard to tolerate. I'm finding I've had to bite my tongue quite a bit. So I guess irritability would be another one.

Hopefully I can be better about getting on here and updating things. Life with 4 kids, while pregnant and homeschooling, can be overwhelming and very busy!