Monday, October 20, 2014

Birthday Season is Finally Over! Happy Birthday Haven and Kat



I know, I know!  You're thinking, "when will Carrie ever write about anything besides birthdays???" Well, birthday season is now officially over.  The next birthday won't come to our house until March! It may take me that long to recover, too!

Kat with her new dolly, wearing her new skirt, one new boot, and her new facial hair.
My twins :) had their birthday last week.  Haven is now 6 years old and Katriel is 3 years old.  It was a hard milestone for me.  With my baby turning three, it feels like there are officially no more babies in my house.  Boohoo!


The kids had their well baby visit to the doctor today and it turns out my big boy isn't as big as he used to be.  Haven is now in the 23rd percentile for height and the 58th for weight.  But he is not a chubby short guy.  He is one rock solid little muscle man.  And oh so handsome!

Haven's faves right now are the color green, radio control cars, his orange blanket, and of course, big sister Grace.


Katriel is my big little mama.  She is in the 97th percentile in height and the 95th in weight.  This is the same track she had been on since before we brought her home.  Our doctor also said she is extremely articulate for her age. Which didn't surprise us.  After all, she never stops talking, singing, and mimicking every word her big brothers and sisters say.  She is getting plenty of practice.

Kat's faves include the color pink, baby dolls, Hello Kitty (go figure!) and cuddling with Mama and Daddy!

It was a sweet birthday weekend for my kiddos.  Grandma, Grandpa, and Aunt Cathy came for a 3 day weekend visit.  Which meant there were a quadrillion more presents, more noise, more chaos. And more fun!

My little boy is getting so grown up.  He is now ready to slay dragons.......

......or the criminal underworld.  Shaft!

It also meant that Brian and I got a date out without kids.  We ate Indian food and went to Ikea.  Not every one's idea of romance, but Brian knows the way to my heart--spicy food and furniture shopping :)


So obviously my favorite gift of the day was the bag of mustaches.

You can't help but laugh at them.  
 Unfortunately, wearing a fake mustache makes me look like I also have a fake nose!

In this season of birthdays we have also had a season of sick kids and parents. In the days leading up to the relatives visiting we had 2 vomiting kids,  Since they left, another puker, and a case of strep throat.  Holy moly, I am hoping that sick season will be over soon, too.

So I promise, I have more in the works in the next few weeks.  We have another camping trip planned (always great blog material) and we are renovating our garage into a playroom/sensory input room.  I'm very excited to share that with you.

The OFA Holiday Auction is coming up soon so I'll be dropping a hint or two about that (anyone have anything cool to donate?  Hint, hint, hint)  And if we can ever get everyone well enough, I'm sure we'll leave the house eventually and have some more adventures.

Until then, I think I am going to bed!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Just Another Day


I am not a big holiday person.  I am pretty indifferent to most holidays, except for Christmas, which makes me feel all warm and gooey inside.  I am even pretty lukewarm about my own birthday.  It's just another day.

Like today.  Which happened to be my 46th birthday.


It started out like any other day.  I had gotten too little sleep because I had too many visitors to my bed last night (a bout of insomnia struck the boys room).  And I woke up a little late because some cutie pie had adjusted the setting on my alarm clock, again.

I ate my breakfast in the car and rushed to get to work on time.

I was greeted there by my first hint that this was not just another day.  My stage manager (basically a theatre teachers right hand man, or right hand girl in this case) brought me a lovely bouquet of roses. Roses!  Teenage girls can really surprise and delight you sometimes with their thoughtfulness.

A sweet boy in my first period class told me that I looked great for 26.  I think he might be gunning for a bigger part in our next play.

My funniest student brought me a Crunch bar.  Loved that!

Throughout the day my students showered me with lots of birthday wishes.  And mostly they seemed surprised at how nonchalant I was about the whole thing.  But its just another day.

Or it was until I got home.


And then I got the best birthday present ever.  I walked in the door and my kids all shouted "Surprise"!  They were each wearing an adorable homemade party hat that they had decorated themselves.  They led me into the kitchen where they had hung a "Happy Birthday Mom" banner across the room.  On the table were two cakes: a Tiramisu and a cheesecake.  No boring sheet cakes in this kitchen. We lit some candles and ate cake at 4 in the afternoon.  Grace and Haven made me cards and the Littles smothered me with kisses (and cake).



\



A few minutes later Brian dropped like a fly, with a stomach bug.  So I spent the rest of the evening corralling kids and doing laundry, with a brief stop at the McDonald's drive through.  Mama doesn't cook on her birthday or pretty much any other day :)

The house is quiet now, except for the tapping of my key board.  Ahhhhh, it's my birthday.  I might just need to fix myself a drink and toast to myself.

Now, as I have a moment to reflect on it, I guess when you're the mama to six extraordinary babies, teacher to dozens of big-hearted students, and married to the greatest guy in the world, no day really is just another day.

They are all pretty amazing.

Cheers!


Monday, September 15, 2014

Every Human Being in My House is Finally Potty Trained!


Cue the Angel Chorus!!!!

HALLELUJAH!  HALLELUJAH!

I wasn't sure it was going to happen.  I'm sure most parents feel the same way.  When you're knee deep in the doo, it seems like it will never end.

And when your boys are quickly approaching the age of 4 and they still haven't figured it out, you start to panic.

But all of a sudden it just started to click!  For all 4 for my littles.

JoJo was the first to figure it out.  He's a clever little peanut!

Then Louise!  I think for Louise, it was all about style.  She knew that all the hip 3 year old's were wearing princess underpants and she did not want to a get a reputation as someone who is behind the fashion curve. She does change her clothes at least 3 times a day!

Next was Manny.  He was our toughest.  He totally got potty training.  He knew where the pee was supposed to go.  But Manny also tends to have one big giant meltdown per day.  And when the meltdown comes it includes tears, sweat, screams, and...pee.  There is nothing like a great big wet your pants meltdown to cause Mama and Daddy's blood pressure to rise.  But over the summer Manny has grown up a bit.  The meltdowns are way less frequent and so are the accidents.  And my blood pressure it down :)

Finally, Katriel.  She still is just 2 years old, but apparently she didn't want to be left in the dust.  And she certainly didn't want to miss out on the princess panties.

I feel that I can make this very important official announcement about the state of our potty trained-ness because it's not just during the day.  We are pull-up free during naps and bedtime, too. WHOOOOHOOO!


I also want to point out that we never really did any actual training in relation to the potty.  This wasn't a marathon, our kids are not athletes.  I know some people swear by those "potty trained in a day"systems, but I personally think that they are really parent training techniques and as I'm sure my husband will tell you, I'm not easily trained.  With six kids going six different directions, we needed them to achieve potty autonomy. We could not be held to a schedule of taking our kids to use the loo every 30 minutes.  We would never get to leave that one tiny room.  So we just banked on the fact that most kids figure it out at some point and tried not to stress about it much.

And low and behold, they did figure it out!

Unfortunately, this means that I don't really have any more babies in the house.  At least not any human babies.  And that makes me a little bit sad.

Now if only we could get our 4 legged babies to figure it out, too :(


Friday, September 12, 2014

Happy Birthday to Boo



A big, giant, enormous happy fourth birthday to my sweet little Manny Boo Bear!


Manny turned  4 last week and thank goodness he's only four or he might have realized that he had the most anti-climactic birthday "party" in the history of parties.  Brian was sick in bed with strep throat all day and all night, so Manny's birthday consisted of drive thru from McDonald's, a lack luster grocery store cake, and some kinda shoved in a gift bag wrapped presents.  Brian got up just long enough help me light the candles and sing Happy Birthday and then he headed back to bed.



So my darling youngest baby boy continues to grow like a weed.  He is in the 85th percentile in both height and weight.  He is getting tall and slender and he has finally grown out of his baby fluffiness and awkwardness.  But he still eats like he has a hollow leg!

A lot of things have changed about Manny's personality this year. He is a lot more joyful and a lot less emotional.  He has turned that corner from toddler to kid. He is funny and playful and intelligent. He still loves to drum, but he also loves to read and play with his Leapfrog.  Over this summer he has turned into a world class swimmer.



This year Manny and JoJo are doing pre-k together at a lovely little church school.  We weren't sure how he would take to it, and mornings are a little tough, but in general he seems to really like school.


Manny's favorite person is Haven.  He loves to do whatever Haven is doing!  He also has a soft spot for his baby sister, Kat.


His favorite color is blue!  OK, its more than a favorite, it a crazy obsession.  Nobody else had better try and drink out of Manny's blue cup at dinner!!!


This little man has been a tough nut to crack. He still is not my most cuddly kid.  He a really hard start in life.  But he always wants to say a prayer and give me a big wet kiss at bedtime.  Melts. My. Heart!!!

Happy Birthday, Immanuel.  You're a special little angel to your mama!




Monday, August 25, 2014

School Daze: 10 Reasons Why We Are A Homeschooling Family

Last Monday was my first day back to work.  Boo.

I got up early and went off to my week of teaching training and preparation.

Manny and JoJo got up and went off to pre-k at a church school.

Kat and Louise got up and got ready for their day at home with Daddy.

And Grace and Haven......rolled out of bed into their classroom.

After spending all summer planning on sending Grace and Haven to 2nd and Kindergarten at our local public school, we just couldn't do it. We had been feeling a lot of pressure to go public, to do school like other people do, to stop "over-protecting" and "coddling" our kids (and let me assure you that is not what this is about).  But on the night before registration I sat filling out forms, and release statements, and lots of really intrusive questions, and I felt worse and worse.  So Brian and I mulled it over some more and then we mulled it over with Grace and Haven and we all decided that we are a homeschooling family.  Maybe not always, maybe not next year, maybe not every one of our kids, but for right now homeschooling is absolutely the right choice for us.  And here is why:












10 Reasons Why We Are a Homeschooling Family

  1. We Love Our Kids--and we really like them, too!--  I know, lots of people like their kids, but we really like them. We waited a long time for them, it took a lot to get them home, and we like to hang out with them, a lot.  That is not to say that they don't drive us crazy very often sometimes. In a traditional school setting our kids would be spending more of their waking our away from us than with us.  Not cool.  
  2. We Want to Be the Biggest Influence in our Children's Lives--no, we are not right wing, religious wacko isolationists.  We live in a big city with lots of other people and we leave our house a lot. But there are many negative influences in public schools that I am not ready to unleash on my kids.  I don't want my kids to be caught up in consumerism.  I don't want them to worry about wearing the right brand of clothes. I don't want them to hear foul language. I don't want them to learn about smoking, or drug use, or sexual behaviors, from their peers.  I want to share adult things with them when they are old enough to handle them.  And I am fairly certain I won't find Grace selling drugs to Haven out behind the school house.
  3. Our Children Like to Be at Home and They Like to Be Together--my kids are a tight knit little group of people.  Especially Grace and Haven.  They are BEST BEST FRIENDS.  And I love this.  And I hope it never, never changes.  They do have other friends. Friends at church, friends in the neighborhood, friends from playgroups. They all play well with other children.  None of them are aggressive or pushy or obnoxious with other kids.  But when given a choice, they choose their brothers and sisters over anybody else. I LOVE this about them!
  4. We Can Live Life and Teach On Our Schedule--If we stayed up late watching a movie together and we want to sleep in, its OK.  If someone gets sick (or 8 someones, as often happens) and we need to spend a day on the couch, its OK. If Brian wants to load them all in the van and take a field trip, its OK. We can spend time together as a family around my work schedule, not their school schedule.  We can do 4-day a week school or year round school.  We can change directions in curriculum in the middle of the year.  We can spend as much or as little time as our kids want on any subject they want to learn more about.
  5. We Saved Hundreds of Dollars On School Supplies and Clothing--HOLY Smokes, school supply lists are insane and expensive.  I was sort of freaked out when I saw just how much I was going to spend just for Grace and Haven.  When you add in the new backpack, lunch bag, sensible shoes, new clothes, etc. EEK!  Then all the t-shirts, and fundraisers. If you project into our future and multiply by six, it just might break the bank! Instead, we just had to buy a new box of colored pencils and we are pretty much good to go :)
  6. We Want to Give Our Kids Time to Be Kids--we want them to run, and play, and play and run, and sing and dance, and read what they want, and say what they want, and not be trapped in a tiny room in an uncomfortable desk with too many other people in the room.  We also don't want our kids to be tested to death or home-worked to death. Their bodies are not ready to sit still.  Their minds are not ready to be restricted by standardized tests.
  7. Our Kids are Different Than Your Kids--And yes, every kid is different, but ours have a few very obvious differences and we don't ever want the beautiful, extraordinary, diversity of our family to be something that holds our kids back or gives them any reason to doubt how wonderful they are. With all that has been in the news the last few weeks about how hard it is to be a black man in our country I especially don't want my kids to have to face that kind of ugliness too soon.  The idea that Haven would be labeled, singled out, or in any way treated as less wonderful than the white boy sitting next to him just kills me.  It may be inevitable, it may happen someday, but it doesn't have to happen when he is 5 years old.
  8. Our Kids Will Be Safer and Healthier At Home--Safer psychologically and also, safer physically. We can feed them healthier foods and provide them more opportunities for exercise. And we can nourish their hearts and souls in ways that no classroom teacher can. When I asked Grace last night to give me one reason she was happy to be homeschooling she said that she doesn't like to be rooms with big crowds of people.  It takes her out of her safety zone. Our homeschooling environment gives her a sense of security that lets her thrive and learn.
  9. Our Kids Are Learning Lots of Things That Other Kids Don't Know--Grace already knows how to use a sewing machine.  Haven and Grace are both learning to cook.  Our kids are teaming up with another homeschooling family to do science labs twice a week.  Grace can tell you more than you probably want to know about your intestines or Venus fly traps.  Our kids are free to explore what gets them excited!
  10. Because We Can--Brian and I are both certified teachers.  We can do this.  We've done it for 34 years collectively for hundreds of other people's kids.  We are thrilled to now be able to do it for our own.
There are lots more than 10 reasons why we've chosen to home school and our reasons are constantly changing and growing.  For right now, it just feels right to our kids and right to us.  

They probably wouldn't let Haven wear this to public school :)
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