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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Family Update #5

Today we were in the pediatrician's office and a beautiful mom with a tiny baby was checking out right behind us. We were trading compliments on our babies' hair color (hers = jet black, mine = snow white) when she realized the three kids at my waist were mine as well.

Wide-eyed she gasped, "Oh my gosh you have your hands full!" (which by the way I don't get annoyed at hearing when it comes from the mouth of a desperately sleep-deprived new mom)

I gave my now-standard "yeah, but it's a lot of fun" as she was walking away and then felt inspired to call out from across the room, "it gets so much easier!" 

She turned and gave me a questioning look. "Really?"

"Definitely. I cried everyday when my baby was that old. This...(motioning to my brood of kids scrambling over one another to get the best position in front of the lobby aquarium) is way easier than that age (pointing to her babe) was for me." 

"Oh wow. It does feel really hard right now. Thanks." She adjusted the diaper bag on her shoulder and opened the door with one hand, the other cradling her tiny baby against her chest. 

I thought to myself that even though it's louder and more expensive and I find myself requiring more alone time to recharge - it really does feel easier these days.

BJ and I have both said that we feel like we're on the precipice of a lot of fun with this crew. Like we're on a roller coaster ride and so far we've been on the slow journey up to the top of the big drop. We've heard the ride is fast and exhilarating but right now we're sitting back at a 45 degree angle moving incredibly slowly, terrified that at any moment the train will come unhitched from the tracks and we'll tumble backwards in a crumpled heap of metal and bone. When we focus on the good we see incredible views to the side and a gorgeous sky above - but we know there's more to this ride than we're experiencing. A few more years and I have a feeling we'll be screaming down the other side of the hill, hands in the air, smiles a mile wide. 

For the moment, we're trying to focus on the good - which there is so very much of. 

BJ & Katie
The Parents

We celebrate 11 years of marriage next month - dang! This guy is my best friend, my confidant, my foot-rubber, my help-mate, my eye-candy, my inspiration and my soul-lover. He's the one I always hope the text is from, the one I can't wait to see in the afternoon and the one who keeps me honest. Also, he's told me it's unattractive when I raise my eyebrows like this in pictures. Whatever.

The First Born

Likes: earning and counting money, reading the Magic Tree House series
Dislikes: raisins, writing, things that are "not fair" 
Frequently Spotted: creating spaceships and machines out of Legos
Special Skills: this kid can now mow the lawn all by himself. He charges $4 for doing so and would love to come mow your lawn provided his mom can give him a ride and you can start the mower up for him. 
Noteworthy Accomplishments: Yesterday he rode his bike out on the bike trails behind our house solo for the first time and did not get hurt or abducted - it was a big moment for this mama. 

The Only Girl

Likes: anything "high schoolers" do, talking, reading, make-believing
Dislikes: foods not primarily composed of dairy and/or wheat molecules, sleeping
Frequently Spotted: reading the Pinkalicious "Flower Girl" book & practicing for an upcoming starring role in her aunt's wedding
Special Skills: expressing emotion ("Daddy the grass feels delightful today!" "Mom, the boys make me crazy inside, don't you wish we could all just be girls?")
Noteworthy Accomplishments: even though karate is not her favorite ("I would rather be a singer girl than a karate girl, but I need a little more practice before I can sing on TV...") she did earn her Advanced Green belt last month alongside her big brother and is determined to make it to black belt. 

The Middle Child

Likes: back rubs, snuggling, one-on-one attention
Dislikes: tying his shoes, wearing "long shorts" (aka pants)
Frequently Spotted: carrying around his beloved and bedraggled night-night 
Special Skills: playing up or down. This kid can be Jude's buddy one minute and Elijah's the next. Yesterday he and his sister spent 2.5 hours outside in their tree house in a magical make-believe world.
Noteworthy Accomplishments: Last night he ate four servings of spaghetti at dinner, which was helpful as his siblings ate a combined zero.  

The Baby

Likes: singing in the morning, balls of any kind, wresting with siblings
Dislikes: sharing, apologizing
Frequently Spotted: wearing over-sized rain boots and pajamas at noon
Special Skills: climbing out of his crib, performing naked somersaults at a run
Noteworthy Accomplishments: this kid talks more and has done so earlier than any of our other kiddos. To the chagrin of the other kids, he's now perfectly capable of outing them for not treating him fairly. 

The Dog

Our laid-back chocolate labrador passed away in late September. She died peacefully at home while being petted by BJ, her very favorite human. Estimated to be somewhere in her late 80s, Dakota is missed every time we have to clean up food we've dropped on the floor (which is quite often as you might imagine). Her ears were the silkiest, her eyes the chocolatest. There will be no replacement puppies. 

Monday, October 10, 2016

Going Grey

“Your sister asked for Taylor Swift and I’m not changing songs again until this song is over!” I locked eyes with the 6 year old in the rearview mirror to make sure he got my point. That’s when I caught sight of the barely recognizable mousy brown-haired girl in the driver’s seat. "Ugh, I'm so overdue for highlights." I reached up and smoothed down the hair on either side of my part, realizing that without the assistance of my quarterly foils, I had essentially become a brunette.

I eased into a left-hand turn, still glaring at the unfamiliar woman in the mirror, when a glint at the crown of my head caught my eye. "What was that? Surely… no. It couldn't be. It's not. Is it?" I straightened out the wheel and cast a more thorough glance into the mirror.

Rolling to a stop at a red light, I probed my part, isolating the sparkling strand from her more modest sisters. There she was, sticking straight up like a proud first grader's hand, begging for attention... the rest over at Coffee+Crumbs today. And you might want to grab a cup of coffee before you go, I wouldn't be surprised if you find yourself reading more words than mine.  

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

How Homeschool's (Really) Going

Some of y'all may have seen on Facebook that I took a bit of a blog hiatus last month because I was too busy losing my mind to write lovely posts about how I'm nailing motherhood/homeschooling/wifeing. The school year started out like most things do: high on hopes and dreams and low on reality. By the end of Week 3 the wheels were starting to fall off the bus.

Homeschooling has been hard. My classroom consists of an unmotivated 2nd grader, a precocious Kindergartener, a rambunctious four year old and one very loud and very opinionated two year old - who has a penchant for pooping in the middle of particularly hands-on lessons.

Learning: patterns and shapes
 Illuminating: our first names
 Discovering: turtles like mushrooms
 Baking: Brownies 101
Creating: biome models
Destroying: what once was lovely and good
 Observing: a failed science experiment
Escaping: the home part of school
Drawing: a Viking longship
Pretending: SpiderMan vs. Thor
Feasting: Like royalty

It hasn't helped that I'm very much an all-or-nothing kind of person. I laid out my August and September work-out plan right alongside my kids' lesson plans and was dutifully getting up each morning at 6am to get in the workout (Insanity...should have taken a hint there...) and a shower before throwing up a quick Hail Mary and greeting the kids at 7am.

By the end of Week 5 everything just seemed really hard. I was overwhelmed by four distinct personalities, two different grade levels of curriculum, three tornadoes of testosterone and one dramatic diva. Each moment of peace was shattered before I could sink into it. Each lesson was interrupted. Each one of us cried at some point each day.

I felt like I could ace homeschooling if only it weren't for my 2 year old. Or maybe it's my second grader who's the issue. Yes, I'd be fine and in total control if my second grader were less stubborn. Maybe both school-age kids should be in school...then I could go back in time and live my pre-school mom life! Mornings at the park and Bible studies with childcare included....Or maybe I just need a Parent's Morning Out program! Then I could ship off both the little guys and just be a teacher for the morning...I spent each afternoon replaying the morning to figure out what needed tweaking.

Week 6 ended with me having a come-to-Jesus with my second grader. It wasn't a pretty conversation, I'm quite certain I handled it badly. There was a toddler banging on the locked door while I talked to his back as he lay in his bunk above me. I told him he could do school here or he could do school down the street, but I refused to fight with him over it anymore.

In Week 7 I let our science curriculum slide. And I let my workouts slide. I replaced spelling lessons with read-alouds and we limped into Fall Break happy to have survived.

Last week was Fall Break. We slept late and read a lot and my second-grader wrote a beautiful essay about our dog completely without prompting. (Writing is one of the subjects we specialize in fighting over.) It was glorious and just what my soul needed. This week we're forging ahead. I don't really have a different game plan. I did buy candy and toys from the Dollar Store and if the kids get through school with no attitude, they can choose a prize at the end of the week.

I'm still convinced less-school is a good thing at their age. I still believe learning to pull their weight with chores and to speak respectfully to mom and dad are more important than reading at grade level.  I still love our slow mornings and the sound of their voices blending in protest as I close our read-aloud. I still dream of the possibilities that open up when high schoolers are homeschooled.

But I'm praying more and trying to hold this precious homeschool dream, this thing I wanted to do even before I wanted to have kids, with open hands.

Lord you created these kids and you gave them to us. You created us and you know our hearts and hopes intimately. Would you guide us and lead us into your best for us in this season?

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