Thursday, August 13, 2015

The first week

School has officially started.  I took the obligatory first day of school pictures.  Somehow Will and Piper's pictures got deleted so they aren't included in our first day of school pictures.  Will is in 5th grade, Isaac is in 4th, and Eli is in 2nd.  Our first week is almost over and I think it's gone pretty well.  I have been dreading doing Homeschool this year and tried to have a calm heart about it but it wasn't until the night before school started when Mike gave us all blessings that I felt things would be ok.  The boys have been awesome this week.  They have been on task and had a great attitude the entire week.  They didn't even complain when I made them do Yoga with me.  They wake up at 7:00, shower, and then clean their room and the bonus room.  At 7:30 we eat breakfast and at 8:00 we check their rooms and bonus room to see if they are actually clean and then we check agendas and get started with the day.  I say "we" but Mike is really getting back from running or showering but he comes in from time to time to see how things are going or to have family prayer with us before he leaves for work.  This week we have talked about the tools for dealing with anxiety and stress by reading about music, yoga, and being in nature.  Tomorrow we will talk about how service helps with anxiety/stress and we will make homeless kits for Mike to take with him to work.  The school is downtown and there are a lot of homeless individuals asking for money each day.  He mentioned he needed something in his car and since I was already planning on talking about service with the kids, this seemed like a good idea to do with them.  After reading about these things we put them into practice so the first day we listened to music while we worked, the second day we did yoga and today we went for a hike.  

 The first day we had Cinnamon rolls to kick off our year.  It was a yummy way to start our year.
 We also make a "recipe for success" snack where we talked about effort and teamwork and all that good and cheesy stuff.  They munched on that for the first couple of days.
 We also went swimming for PE.  I made the boys do some laps and other water exercises before they got to play.  We had the pool to ourselves.  The pool is only open until the end of the month so we will probably do this a lot.  Next week a friend who is a swimmer is coming to the pool with us to teach the boys some strokes.

The boys are doing Spanish this year with the help of the Rosetta Stone.  

 Yesterday I was feeling bad for Piper that I had been giving so much more attention to the boys and thought maybe she would like going to the park.  The boys packed some work to do while she played (well, and Eli.  He chose to play and finish work when we got home).  I forgot that the splash pad was still on so they got drenched in their clothes before we headed back home.

 Eli read to Piper on the trampoline while the other two boys helped each other mow the lawn.  Mostly Will mowed because it's still pretty hard for Isaac but they helped each other for part of it.

Today we did Egyptian faces for art.  The boys loved using the gold paint and had so much fun!  

 After painting we went to Ijams Nature Center for our Science.  We've been learning about plants this week and we were going to save Ijams for tomorrow but it's supposed to be cooler today than tomorrow so we will probably just do a review tomorrow.  Will is becoming quite the little photographer and he has been trying all summer to snap a picture of a butterfly and finally got a couple today.  He was very happy and proud of himself.  He did get some good pictures too!

That's it for this week mostly.  I'm glad to have one week done.  It's a lot of work to be honest but the boys seem happy and that makes me happy.

Thursday, August 06, 2015


We have just a couple more things to do to be completely ready for our first day of Homeschool on Monday.  I still need to get to the library and get a couple of books for the first week.  I have a couple of things to grab at the store for our first lesson (it's a cooking lesson about working together) and I need to print off each boy's schedule.  They are mostly the same but we stagger them on some things like reading, piano, and Spanish.  Besides that, I think we are ready.  Each boy has notebooks, folders, and a planner in their drawers.  I've got their curriculum chosen and organized in the bookshelf.  I've got a couple of weeks of lesson plans written.  

I've decided that we are going to focus a lot of executive skills this year as well as stress relief and anxiety relief techniques.  I have a long list of activities that we are going to incorporate into the day to help us learn how to use these skills on a regular basis.  For the executive skills functioning I've ordered multiple games that help improve executive skills.  Will loves games and since he is the one that most needs help in this area, I think the games will be perfect for him.  Each boy also has a planner for this very reason.  We are going to be pretty strict about writing assignments in our planners and planning out a timeline for our projects.  I hope by the time the year is over Will is going to be a pro at paying attention to details and being organized.

For our anxiety skills I've come up with a list of 30 activities we will do to help us learn how to manage our stress and anxiety better.  Off the top of my head some of them are yoga, deep breathing, journal writing, listening to music, exercise, and memorizing uplifting scriptures.  I am really hopeful that these techniques I've researched and planned for us to practice will help us all.  My kids really need some help in this area so I'm excited that I will have a chance to really focus on this area--something they really wouldn't have help with at school.

Am I mentally and emotionally ready for this change in our home?  No.  I actually had a major breakdown two nights ago when Mike put the letter to the school  in the mail withdrawing our children from the public school system.  I put it off as long as I possibly could until he finally just did it for me.  Today is the meet and greet at the school and I kept thinking maybe we would just hop on over and meet their teachers and just see if my feelings changed.  But now the letter is sent and it's pretty official.  I am not ready for this change.  I feel like after praying about it and going to the temple that this is the right thing for us but that doesn't mean I'm happy about it.  

There are a lot of women in this ward that homeschool and their kids are great and they are wonderful but homeschool has pretty much taken over their lives.  Some of them have demanding callings and they manage their callings well along with homeschooling.  I feel like I am a mother, a wife, a friend, a sister.  I have hobbies and a business to run with Mike.  I have a body that I am trying to work hard on making healthier and I need friends and interactions with other people.  

Most of the mothers I've interacted with who homeschool feel very strongly about their decision.  I don't feel that way.

My feelings on this are really complicated and too long to write about on here.  I am interested in seeing how this will effect our children on multiple levels and I am interested to see how my feelings change as time goes on.  If they don't change, I might not stick this out longer than the year.  In the meantime, I'm going to put my heart into it and make this the best year possible for the boys.

Hiking and the Smokies

The boys had a service project/hike to do for scouts this month.  We went to Ijams Nature Center and helped haul huge branches to a truck.  We all got there at 9:15 to try and beat the heat but the people at Ijams were running behind and didn't get us stared on the branch hauling until about an hour later.  By 11:30 we decided it was getting too hot to put off the hike any longer.  Will had a three mile hike to do and Isaac had a mile hike.  Will was supposed to be the leader for his group so I went with him and let Isaac go with the Bears and Wolves.  It ended up being so hot and humid that we only went two miles.  Isaac's group went on the same trail as us and even though they thought they were doing one mile they ended up doing two also.  I was really proud of the boys and their good attitudes because it was miserably hot.  I had frozen water bottles in the backpack where the camera was so my camera was all foggy and I didn't get great pictures.  

On Monday we headed down to Metcalf Bottoms in the Smokies with some friends.  We spent the day just playing in the water and having a picnic lunch.  It was the perfect day.  My friend brought camp chairs and we took our chairs down to the river and sat in the middle of the river in our chairs.  I thought, "Now I'm officially a Southerner!"  It seems like such a typical southerner thing to do.  The boys tried to skip rocks, made a rock slide and tried to catch little fish all day.  It was perfect. 

The summer is just about over now and we will probably stick close to home the next few days while I catch up on laundry and get ready for our first day of homeschool on Monday.

Isaac is nine!

Isaac turned 9 a couple of days ago!  He asked for money and said he was kind of sad to be growing out of toys.  He did find a couple of toys that looked interesting to him but he preferred the money.  We did get him a remote control snake and then some money.  He also got a Ripley's Believe it or Not book from Will and a gift card from friends.  It wasn't a party year so instead of a party we just invited some neighborhood friends to meet us at the pool and we swam for a couple of hours. 

Isaac is such a good kid.  He is obedient and happy.  He gets a long well with others and makes friends easily.  I love how excited he has been about growing his corn.  He has watered his corn and checked on it daily.  He has loved to go out stand next to his corn and measure it to see if it has grown taller than him.  He decided he wanted to eat corn on his birthday, and hot wings!  He loves to eat spicy food!  Isaac is such a good brother and son.  He just finished reading all the Percy Jackson books and now is reading the Cane Chronicles.  I am so happy that he has finally decided he likes to read.  He is also working hard on reading the Old Testament.  

 We are so happy that he is a part of our family and love him so much!

Sunday, August 02, 2015

The Beach, and all the events leading up to the beach

While on vacation to Florida we had a beach day.  My boys have only been to the beach one other time and they were super excited about swimming in the Ocean.  Piper had talked about going to the Ocean every day for a week.  "Is today the day I get to swim in the ocean?"  The day did not go quite as well as we had anticipated.  Mike and I got in a huge argument.  We generally don't yell at each other in disagreements but this one escalated to yelling in the car as we began driving to the beach.  The boys were worried--what is wrong with our parents?!--and I ended up yelling, "Turn the car around.  I'm not going to the beach with you!"  Mike slammed on the breaks and we discovered that Piper had unsnapped her seat belt again and she went flying into Mike's seat.  We pulled over, took care of Piper, and I realized that this was just ridiculous to be acting this way.  We calmed down and continued to the beach.  

Thirty minutes into our drive we heard this really loud sound coming from our van.  We were quite confused about where the sound was coming from and pulled over to the side of the road.  Our back tire was completely flat.  Thankfully, Mike had felt inspired before we left TN to bring our spare tire.  I was feeling grateful for his inspiration and his knowledge of how to change a tire.  Mike said, "This will be a good chance for me to show the boys how to change a tire" so we all piled out of the car.  Unfortunately, we discovered that our spare tire had some crazy fancy hubcap and the tools we had to put the tire on would not work with our new tire.  

I called roadside assistance and was told that it would take an hour and a half for a tow truck to arrive.  The boys were devastated.  They all started crying in frustration and sadness that they were not going to make it to the beach.  Our GPS had taken us a different route than the rest of the family so we were stranded in the middle of nowhere, miles and miles from anything.  I was pretty  upset as well.  What terrible luck!  I was trying really hard to stay positive for the kids and not cry myself so I tried to be all Pollyanna like and said, "Let's play a game!"  The boys just blankly stared at me.  "No really!  Let's play the 20 good things game!  All of us will work together to list 20 good things about our situation."  The boys were like, "Uh, Ok."  They begrudgingly listed 20 things.  "We have a cell phone."  "We have AC in our van."  "We have snacks in the van."  "We can watch a movie while we wait."  They had a pretty good list and amazingly enough, when we finished they had stopped crying and we were all a bit happier.  

I have to admit though, it was a bit too much for me.  I was dealing with girly issues (which was going to make the beach an unpleasant experience to begin with), I'd just gotten into a huge fight with Mike, and now we had a flat tire.  How were we all going to fit into a tow truck anyway?  I got out of the van to be by myself and started crying.  "This sucks."  "Twenty good things."  "No, really, this sucks."  I looked down and saw the hugest bug I've ever seen in my life on my butt!  The eyes were the size of my thumb and it looked like some crazy bee/fly thing and I freaked out and ran to the car and then I just cried some more.  Not only was I stuck in the middle of no where but I was also being besieged by monstrous flying creatures from the Netherworld.

At this point Mike called his parents and asked them to come back for me and the kids.  They were already at the beach but turned around and drove an hour back to get us.  Steve stayed with Mike and the kids and I piled in with Carol.  We had to make a potty stop since we were stranded in the middle of nowhere.  Finally, we made it to Cocoa Beach.  

The rest of the day was fine for the boys and I.  We all had a good time playing in the water and sand.  Piper loved the waves and was actually really brave in the water and the boys were way more brave than I am.  I am quite timid in the ocean but they swam out far past the beach to be by their cousins and uncles.  I only got one picture of Will the entire time because he stayed in the water the entire time (except for once when he came back to get something to eat but because he didn't have his glasses, he couldn't see where we were sitting and got lost!  I didn't see him because I had taken someone to the bathroom so he walked back and forth and started to get worried.  Thankfully, he was smart and went and grabbed a life guard to tell them he didn't have his glasses and couldn't see his family and could they help him find us?  I looked over to see Will walking around with the life guard and ran over to see what was going on.  Turns out, the life guard stand was right by us and all was well).

While the kids and I had fun at the beach, Mike and Steve hung out in the car where Steve gave Mike sound advice about getting in arguments with wives.  I especially liked how he told Mike that in his experience if he'd just listen to his wife he'd discover that she was usually right.  ;)  

The tow truck didn't show up for 2 1/2 hours!  The driver tried to take them 20 miles back from the direction we were headed and Mike finally convinced him to take them to an auto parts store so he could find the right tool to put the tire on.  On the way the tow truck got a flat!  Finally, after fixing the tow truck and having to go to three different auto parts stores they found the right tool and ended up getting to the beach at 4:00, just when we were all ready to load up and head home.  Sigh.

It ended up being fine.  Mike doesn't like sand anyway and even though I know he would have enjoyed being out in the waves with the boys I think he was ok missing out on all the fun and he has a much better attitude about things not going his way than I have to begin with so it was no hard task for him to keep the 20 things in his mind and make the best of the situation.  Plus, it allowed us to calm down and get over our fight from the morning and we were both happy and relieved to see one another when he finally showed up.  

It was 7/11/2015 so we all stopped at 7/11 on our way home to get gas and a free slurpee and everyone decided to follow one another home this time just in case something happened again.  On the way home we saw another car with a flat in the same exact spot we had a flat!  

In the end, we all arrived home happy and sandy...except Mike.