Sunday, November 22, 2015

Moving the chest out of my room

We bought a chest to put Laila's belongings in when she passed away.  I don't look through the chest very often, maybe just a couple of times a year, but it has her dresses and tiny shoes and the blanket she slept with.  It includes the CD of her ultrasound before she was born where we found out she was a girl and some dried flowers I kept from the person who delivered flowers to us each month that first year after she died.  There are some other things in that chest that have special meaning and that I don't want to lose.

The chest has sat by my bed since we moved here.

This week two of my brothers and their families are coming to visit for Thanksgiving.  I was trying to get the guest/craft room ready for one of them to stay in there.  The light in that room is pretty dim so I bought a lamp to go by the bed but then realized I had nothing to set the lamp on.  I went to Target and bought a small table and brought it in the room.  I didn't really like it and didn't appreciate having to pay $80 for a tiny table that I wasn't in love with.  As I considered if I should keep the table or not I remembered the chest sitting by my bed not being used that would be the perfect height.  I had Mike help me carry the chest to the room and returned the table to Target.

That night I kept feeling bugged by something.  I felt like something was wrong.  I kept trying to figure out what was causing me to feel out of sorts and finally my eyes rested on the bare spot in my room where the chest used to be.

Of course.

I hadn't realized before how much having that chest near me each day meant to me.  It didn't matter that I don't regularly get in the chest to touch her miniature dresses or look for evidence of her hair on the blanket she slept with.  Just having that chest around and knowing that inside was a part of her allowed me to feel close to her and suddenly that reminder was missing.

4 years later I still get surprised at times by the things that trigger certain emotions or thoughts.  The day she died was a Sunday and we came home from church and took her out of her car seat and put it by the side of the couch and then had Mike put her down for her nap.  I didn't move her car seat from that spot for a long, long time.  It was just too hard.  I did finally move the car seat and when Piper came along she used the seat and eventually I passed it on to a friend who was having a baby and needed a car seat.

And then there was the pack-n-play that Piper was sleeping in while my brother and his wife were visiting.  We let them have her room and set the pack-n-play up in the closet so she could sleep in a dark spot.  I made us keep the pack-n-play up for months.  We just squeezed around it while we searched for shoes or clothes, pretending like it was normal to have a pack-n-play crowd your closet.  Mike respected my need to have it take over our closet and never said a word to me about it needing to be put away.

So, I guess the chest being a room away and causing me to feel out of sorts makes sense.  It is hard for me to let go of the things that physically represent a part of her.

The chest is still in the guest/craft room.  I might move it back to my room after everyone leaves.  I haven't decided.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Trying to focus my thoughts

I have very limited time right now which means that I have to write fast!

My head has been pounding for over two weeks now.  Dizzy, pounding, horrible.

This happens to me after I have babies but this time there is no baby, just the crappy after effects.  So the head pounds and with that comes feelings of depression. I read this talk recently that said that postpartum depression was the thief of motherhood.  Sounds about right for me.

Anyway, I've tried a few different things and the headache hasn't really let up.  Yoga helped for a few hours.  Peppermint oil helped for a couple of seconds.  Mike's neck and head massage made the pounding a dull throb for a bit.  The caffeine and Tylenol were about the same.  I finally made an appointment with the doctor and bought a pack of Dr. Pepper but today my headache has been very gentle.  Go figure.  Hopefully it won't get worse again and will just get better and better.

I guess I mention the headache because I've had a poopy attitude lately about a couple of things.  I feel so overloaded with things right now and I am trying to manage so many things all at one time.  I have been trying to remind myself to focus on the most important things and let the others go.  For me, homeschooling, a miscarriage (and depression following), and trying to help Mike run a business during the holiday season is a lot.  On top of that, Mike got called to the bishopric again for the third time.  It's all a little too much for me.  I try to manage the house, get boys to basketball practices three times a week, do my visiting teaching, exercise daily, shower, get my scriptures read, etc. etc.  Like everyone else, my life is full and I am struggling to figure out what are the best things for me to do.

I could write a lot about how I dislike this calling or how unfair it seems to add more to my plate right now or how this couldn't come at a worse time for me.  Blah, blah, blah.  I won't write all of that because I'm trying to focus on what I have, not what I lack.  So, I mention the headaches but mostly the relief of headache today.  The first two times we had this calling I had a hard time noticing when the Lord was helping me manage life while Mike was gone.  Today He helped by making my head only throb slightly.  He helped me get a lot done today, more than I should have been able to get done.  He helped me last week by having Mike's class get finished early so that he was able to be home for 45 minutes before he had to leave again for fellowshipping visits.  He's helping me to sand products in half the time some days.  Sometimes I almost miss noticing the ways he is helping but I'm trying to focus on them.

One thing I remember from the other two times he was in this calling was looking back and wondering how we ever managed it.  There was a lot to manage then too and somehow we did it.  So here is my attempt to remind myself that we will somehow manage all of this too.

Thursday, November 12, 2015


These pictures make me supremely happy.
I have a picture of me when I was the same age sitting on my Grandma Clark's lap with her kissing my cheek and I'm in a turtle-neck and have pig-tails in my hair.  I look just like Piper in that picture, minus the red hair.  

Piper asked if I would give her a bath and I told her I didn't have time to give her a bath and she would have to wait.  Then she asked for blueberries.  Weasel child.  She knew if she got "blue enough" she would get a bath.

I had to paint something for an order so I set up a table in the sun (it's been raining a lot this month) and Piper had to paint with me.  She pretty much pesters me to let her paint every day.  

I like her.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Rocks and Games

It is weird to me that my blog is becoming a Homeschool report but honestly, that is what my day is filled with right now.  This past week went well.  The boys have been bugging me about a treasure box and I finally got some items for it and they are excited to earn fun stuff each week.  All I have left to do for that is make some coupons they can "buy" like skip a subject or lunch with mom or extra computer time.  One good thing about Homeschool is that it provides me the opportunity to work more on their cub scout requirements.  Will had a rock and mineral requirement and it aligned with his Science this week so I purchased a minerals kit and I had no idea it would provide the kids with so much fun.  They sat at their desk and oohed and awed over just about every rock and then they filled their little charts up and spent a long time on this before moving on to their next subject.  Eli even found a rock that he called "Dad's rock" because in his opinion, it looked like Blue Cheese.  

We do not do Art as much as I'd like.  I am not prepared well enough for that.  I try hard to have at least one Art project a week.  Last week we made cool pumpkins where we cut the pumpkins out of black construction paper and behind it we cut strips of fun halloween paper up and glued it to the paper before we put our black pumpkins on top.  I didn't get a picture of the finished project though. 

I'm also trying to focus more on the Executive Skills area lately, which means being more strict about their planners.  I write down their assignments each day on the white board and require them to write them down in their planner and check each subject off when they finish it and put their books away for that subject.  I also require them to write their times down for Spanish, Scripture reading, regular reading, and piano.  They try to sneak it by me that they have done their required 15 minutes (30 for Spanish) so I make them write their start and end time down and then at dinner time they have to bring out their planners and show both me and Mike and have us check them off for the day.  

It seems so unnecessary but this is something they all need help in and I hope that teaching them how to be more organized and follow through on these little tasks will give them good habits for the future.  My biggest complaint is that they can NEVER find their pencils.  It drives me crazy.  I honestly had no idea how many pencils we would go through in a couple of months.  If they would just put their pencils away each day...

I also bought some fun games for the boys that should help them practice executive skills.  This week we played Phase 10.  I hate Phase 10 but the boys love it and it is a good game that helps them think through processes so I let them skip Math on Friday and we played Phase 10.  That is some serious love right there from me.  I was hoping they would just play the three of them but they insisted I play.  Bleh. (the last picture shows my unexcited face at playing Phase 10) I also bought Swish, a new game that we are going to try out this week.  

I feel like these blog posts are getting super boring lately and more like an update than anything else but honestly I don't have the time for anything else.  So, maybe when life calms down I'll be able to sit and form some thought provoking or witty post but until then I'll just keep spitting out a bunch of pictures with explanations.  :) 


This year our family went to two different pumpkin patches.  We went the first time with some friends and got rained out.  We showed up and within fifteen minutes it was raining so hard that they shooed us out of the pumpkin patch and closed down for the night.  They gave us tickets so we could get back in another day so we went the following week with the same friends.  It was the perfect evening and weather and the kids had a great time.  We got to the actually pumpkin patch at dark and the kids ended up choosing a rotten pumpkin and only realized it when we got home and saw it in the light.  That was the only bad part of our night though.  

We also went to a different pumpkin patch with a group of LDS homeschooling families in Knoxville.  I really wanted the kids to get to know some of the other kids in the area that homeschool.  There ended up being a lot of girls but not a lot of boys.  I think the boys still had a great time but I'm hoping our next homeschool field trip will have more boys.  The group is trying to start up a homeschool co-op and I'm hoping it will work out because as a Mormon we are not allowed to join very many of the co-ops in the area.  There is one group I've heard of that we can join but I also heard it isn't very organized.  Anyway, we had a great time on our field trip and enjoyed meeting some new friends.  I was thankful that we knew a few of the families from our ward and stake.

Halloween was fun this year.  Our normal Trunk-or-Treat is held on a family farm with a hay ride and fire pit and yummy chili.  This year we were rained out from that as well.  (I am seeing a common theme here...)  We rescheduled for later in the week when the rain finally stopped and had to hold it at the church instead because it was too muddy.  I decided last minute to dress up as a "Smartie Pants."  The kids thought it was hilarious.  On Halloween night we had two families come to our house for hot chocolate before we went trick-or-treating.  Our neighborhood is one of the main neighborhoods people come to for trick-or-treating because it is one of the few neighborhoods with sidewalks and also because we live in a pretty rural area.  It was a nice, crisp evening and the kids had a great time. Piper knew immediately what she wanted to be (Minnie Mouse) and was so excited when her costume arrived.  The boys all wanted to be something scary and gruesome but Eli and Isaac changed their minds when they decided being Mindcraft characters would be fun.  

It's crazy to me that October is over now and we are getting ready for Thanksgiving already.  Before we know it Christmas will be here.  The weather is starting to get cold finally and it has been raining a lot and cloudy as well.  I think it is raining a few days this week as well so I might have to pull out my sun lamp soon.  I like the rain, just not all the time.  

Thursday, October 22, 2015


It's time for a post on all our homeschool happenings.  Tomorrow we are going to a pumpkin patch with a bunch of LDS homeschool families in Knoxville.  This will be our first outing with other families who homeschool.  I hope the kids can meet some new friends and that we can have a ton of fun!  With everything that has happened the past three months with me I haven't been as invested as I would have liked.  I have tried to keep things going as smoothly as possible and some days have gone better than others.  I was feeling frustrated on Monday with my short work out that should have taken about 30 min but ended up taking about an hour from all the interruptions.  It is difficult for me to manage all the things I  need to do for myself and the house while still making sure that the boys are getting all their work done.  I find that I am nagging a lot lately (something that I hate!) about putting books away and having pencils and erasers ready for the next day.  The house is much dirtier than before and I am exhausted by the time bedtime rolls around.  So, it definitely makes my life more complicated, but I think overall, it's going well.  

I have been really pleased with how self-motivated the kids are.  There are some days where I want to pull my hair out trying to get the kids to stay on task but for the most part they have a schedule, I write their daily work on the board, they write their work in their planner and then they get to work.  I have been having a hard time getting myself going in the mornings the past few months and I've been so pleased to see that when I get up (at 7:45!) the boys are showered and dressed and starting to get their reading out of the way.  Piper just follows them around and sometimes they even get her some cereal for breakfast.  It's so nice!  By 1 they are usually done and sometimes by Noon, depending on how early I get up and how well they stay on task.  

So, here are some pictures I've taken this month:

We learned about the Greeks and had a Greek Olympics (javelin throwing, chariot races, and a ball throw game).  We also made head wreaths and had a Greek themed dinner.

 The boys learned how to bake over the last few months.  We baked some banana bread and some different cookies and then froze the dough and the bread until our bake sale.  The boys made all the cookies and the banana bread and then asked me to bake some muffins as well.  Of course, they had to taste some of their cookies.  They ended up selling all of their bread and all but about five cookies, making $107!

 One of the things I make the boys as part of their school day is spend 30 min each with Piper which allows me to exercise or wash dishes, shower, or do some work for the business.  Plus, it gives the boys a break from school work and gets Piper away from the TV or kindle.  The boys love this new development.  They read her books, do Starfall with her, jump on the trampoline, play Just Dance with her, or do crafts.

 So far we have had two "guest teachers."  My brother Jess was awesome enough to teach the boys some Geography and tell them a little bit about what he does for his GIS job.  It was super cool and the boys were interested the entire time.  I had planned on having the kids lunch out of the way before we began but I had some people over for visiting teaching and we didn't get lunch in so they ate as they listened and took notes.

 Another thing I focus on with the boys is incorporating stress relief tools into their lives.  I make them do Yoga with me, which they don't really care for.  I have a big list of things that we have talked about and done to practice using these skills.  It's been fun and I hope that as we do them regularly the boys will find themselves using the skills automatically.
 Usually for PE the boys have to practice their basketball skills since they are starting basketball soon but a lot of times I just make them come exercise with me.

 Finally, we have been learning about Volcanoes and earthquakes this week.  The boys got this volcano for Christmas like two years ago and painted it and everything but we are finally getting around to using it after much begging on their part.  I'm not sure why it took us so long to get to.  We also tried the soda and mentos trick and it worked but didn't explode like I had hoped it would.  So, that's the low down on what we've been doing lately.