Wednesday, October 26, 2011
So Grayson invited the Lego Club, the official title for his brother and three closest friends. They're all Lego Heads, and especially Star Wars Lego Heads, so it was an easy theme to go with! Here's Grayson greeting his guests, wearing his costume for trick or treating (I told him he could wear it for ten minutes; then he had to put it back, because this is the first year I've actually had all three costumes and trick or treat bags before the day of Halloween, and I didn't want him to tear it!).
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
We had a full, full week and weekend! There was too much going on to put into one post, so here are a few highlights from the week.
The boys are studying astronomy this year for science, and this week we learned about Venus. We made a volcano of butter and flour to show how lava melts, then cools. I love easy science experiments that require very little work but are fun for the kids.
And for P.E. we bought a volleyball/badminton/pickle ball set and put up the net in our back pasture. I left the rackets and balls on the deck, and the kids have gone out all week and played. It's a little hard to play badminton with three players, so I ended up playing with them a lot. They think I'm extremely athletic and good (I'm not), so it's very gratifying :-) Addie is actually pretty good at sports, so she and Caiden played lots and lots of pickle ball.
One of the things we really loved about our house when we first looked at it, is that it's fully fenced and gated, with cross fencing for the pastures and paddock. So the kids can go outside and play, and I don't have to worry about them getting into the street--or into the land behind us, which has a large den of coyotes! The freedom means they spend a lot of play time outside, now that it's finally cooling down.
On Wednesday, we had a little family party to celebrate our Texas Rangers appearing in the World Series! I taught the kids "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," which required looking up the lyrics on the phone. I'm famous for messing up lyrics, so I figured I'd rather be safe than sorry.
Then we made nachos and a plate of cookies. I got the idea from Erin, who made hers several years ago. I bought Nutter Butters to be the peanuts and then dipped Oreos in white candy coating, let them harden, and used an icing writer to draw on the threads for the baseballs. Can you guess what was the kids' favorite part?
They turned out cute (and delicious!)--thanks Erin!
On Thursday we had a wedding rehearsal to go to and had to miss some of the game, but even our babysitter Kristina and her precious baby Abby (The kids call her "The Evil Dr. Abby" because she chases the cat, but fortunately Kristina thinks it's funny!) got into the spirit!
I have tons more pictures from Grayson's birthday party and the wedding he and Chris were in this weekend that I'll post next time. It was a full, full week, and although it was all really fun, I'm very glad to see a quiet, foggy Monday here today! And that is good, because the second half of this week and the weekend are going to be really full, too! Today I'm savoring doing not much else besides school, sipping chai tea lattes, and heating up chili for tonight's game--go Rangers!!
I am a worrier. I know it's not God's best for me to worry, and that it's futile because it's nearly always about things I can't control, but I'm still a chronic worrier. I worry about propane leaks, plumbing leaks, water leaks (Yes, we've had all of those this fall!). I worry about mortgage issues, siding that needs to be replaced but costs as much as putting in a pool, college savings. Does Grayson need glasses, and will he ever stop walking on his toes? Hives that won't go away, teeth that are going to need serious orthodontic work. If it can be worried about, I cover it!
I've also realized, in my long career as a worrier, that as soon as the issues I'm stressed about are resolved--generally positively--that another group crops up in their place. When the hot water heater is replaced (twice) one week, and the kids' window seats are rebuilt, the next week water stains appear in the ceiling--underneath the 3 year old roof. The goat doesn't appear to have pneumonia after all (after I forced myself to stick her with a needleful of antiobiotics, of course), but the dog does seem to have stomach cancer. Except, $500 later, he doesn't. He just has diarrhea, all over the expensive rugs.
There is always something to worry about, and I can be consumed with the gnawing worry that eats at my joy and peace.
Except when I refuse to indulge. There is always something to be worried over, unless I push that little niggling tidbit out of my head, decide to think about it another day, and go outside instead. Play badminton with kids who are young enough to think I'm really good at it. Bake brownies for the childcare workers at church, and lick the batter. Take a walk and crunch all the fall leaves under our feet on the bridle path. Do another math lesson and cheer on my non-mathematical child who works so hard to get it, and he does! Fold clean laundry and smell freshly-washed towels. Sip a chai tea latte and not worry about the calories. Turn the music on really loud and sing to the dog.
I am seeing the futility of worrying, and that it's an ugly friend who never satisifes. God says in Psalm 37 that instead of worrying, I'm supposed to "feed on His faithfulness." He steps in and gives me His faithful goodness, His grace, His peace, His joy when life circumstances are worrisome. Even when the curveball I'm thrown is heavier and weightier than a dying hot water heater or water stain, when it's a scary diagnosis or crushing disappointment. He is better than life, and that means He's better than anything in my life.
Today, instead of worrying about water stains and propane smells (The propane detector says everything's fine.) and infections and crumbling siding, I'm going to make nachos and decorated cookies for tonight's game (Go Rangers!!). I'm going to take Grayson to his physical therapy appointment and not worry about if it doesn't work and he walks on his tiptoes forever. I'm going to get ready for co op tomorrow, love on the three little friends who are always with me, fold more clean laundry, and probably sing to the dog. I'm going to be thankful for what God has given me, not worry about what He hasn't, and enjoy today.
Besides, I can't focus on worries and eat up this mix-matched, braided-bun delicious little girl:
"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow . . ."October 2011
This weekend I got to take Addie on three little dates! Sure, they were technically all spent running errands, but she loves to go with me, and the boys love staying home with Daddy. On Friday, Chris' day off, Addie and I ran about a million errands that are hard to do with three kids--the cleaners, the post office, etc. It's so much easier just helping one child out and into the car! When we finished, I took her to one of our favorite spots--Starbucks! I very slowly sipped a chai tea latte while she slurped down her chocolate milk, and then she played with the free Starbucks app from last week, "The Monster at the End of This Book" while I wrote in my notebook and tried to get my life together. It was a sweet, sweet time! Everybody else in Starbucks was on business, so it was funny to hear her little giggles at Grover's antics.
This is what I came home to:
We had sheetrockers fix some seams and a hole in our kitchen ceiling that I've been looking at for nearly two years. It made a mess in multiple rooms (the photo of our bedroom is only one of three walls worked on!), but it is sooo nice not to see cracks or holes anymore. And yay! for checking things off the home improvement list . . .
Then on Saturday, I took my little love to a nearby farmer's market to pick up our meat order. We somehow again found ourselves sipping treats from Starbucks--it was on the way--and wandered up and down the row of beautiful vegetables. I wanted to take a picture of the farmer we bought these tomatoes from; he was Texas through and through! He had on a button down, Wranglers, and a cowboy hat, and his accent was heavenly to this Southern girl's ears! But I took one of Addie instead, so I wouldn't creep him out as a stalker :)
Oh my goodness I love that girl! Then yesterday, after church, I started to head out to run errands for Grayson's birthday party this coming weekend. But she spied me, knew I was headed to Target, and hopped in the car! She loves Target. We fought the Halloween crowds at Party City, then finished up at Target, and I came home one tired, but very accomplished, mama.
Saturday morning, after our Farmer's Market trip, I came home to this:
I am so very thankful that my husband loves playing board games, because I love the idea of it, but games like Monopoly and Risk take forever!! Chris is always up for a game with Caiden, and they're both fiercely competetive, so it's always funny to watch one of them triumph! We try very hard to instill good sportsmanship in Caiden, so he always says "Good game" and shakes hands afterward, but I know deep down in his heart he's doing a happy dance when he wins. When he loses, he immediately tries to talk Chris into a second game!
Last night Chris went to the movies with friends, so I worked on getting my week together in my head. We have a wedding this weekend, which Chris is officiating and Grayson is participating in, and that always makes for craziness because we spend our entire weekend at church. To top it off, my sister is flying in (yay!) Grayson is having friends over for a sleepover birthday party, and my brother's baby boy is being dedicated at their church. Lots of coordinating needed!
So this was a happy weekend, full of fun little happies, and this week is shaping up to be full and fun, too!October 2011
I have always been very, very neat. I had a perfectly-picked up bedroom growing up, and clutter makes me cross-eyed. However, I am married to a man who does not have the same bent (He's the baby; I'm the first-born, can you tell?), and his offspring have all taken after him, not me. That means there are four people who thwart my every attempt at order, neatness, and margins! It's not that they mean to; they just simply don't see the messes. On the one hand that's good--Chris has never, ever mentioned that things could use a little picking up. On the other hand, that means I spend a vast amount of my waking hours walking from room to room, picking up and mumbling under my breath about how if somebody would notice things left on the stairs--would close the toilet seats--would not drop books and socks and Legos everywhere . . . I feel like a supreme grump and complainer a lot.
I've tried not caring and just going with the flow. That works really well for about a day, but then when five people don't pick up, the house looks like a bomb has exploded, and I just have more work later on. It doesn't help that four of us are here nearly 24 hours of every day, and that homeschooling brings with it about a million books, markers, papers, and math manipulatives. (Those one-inch colored tiles multiply like Gremlins. I find them everywhere!)
My other response is to tackle the chaos head-on: I buy bins, organizers, binders, calendars, laundry systems. I label things, put little reminders on the inside of the toilet lid (Mod Podged, so tinkles can be wiped off!), and continually dump large loads of stuff at Goodwill.
Nothing is helping. I'm going crazy. At least once a week I just put my head down on our school desk, sigh dramatically, and moan. The schedules, activities, books, socks, and Legos are getting to me! I can't do the obvious: cart off the Legos to Goodwill, make everybody go sockless, quit our activities, or send the kids to school.
So, does anybody have any sage words of advice? Especially on this one: what to do with all the Legos! (We have bins and keep them in an understairs closet across from the boys' room, but they seem to spread like a virus.) Now, if you have two little girls who like to sit and color, your husband was in the Army and still lines up his shoes by color and type, or you have live-in help, I'm not sure you can help me. But if you are outnumbered by boys, have a creative (read: not super neat) husband, and homeschool, please let me in on any little secrets you've come by.
And in the meantime, I'm off to fight the paper mess in the schoolroom . . .
Yesterday we had a fall break from our homeschool co-op. I hadn't really thought of anything fun or special to do, and we were just going about our normal morning routine. Suddenly, with absolutely no cause, I burst into tears. The kids all froze and stared at me, knowing it's not normal for me to cry unless I'm reading a book to them! Grayson asked why I was sad, and when I couldn't come up with a coherent reason, he clung to me, reassuring me that I was probably just pregnant, and that I'd be all right. I had to break the news to him that no, I'm not pregnant, and that I really didn't know what was wrong. So I did what any normal, crying-for-no-reason mama does--I put everybody in the car and went to get Frosties from Wendy's!
We drove to a local park we'd never been to before, and after we had a picnic lunch the kids played while I picked my brain. I arrived at the fact that I am having a very, very hard time with my kids growing up. Addie's 5th birthday was hard, Caiden's 10th was nearly tragic, and then Grayson's 7th last week just pushed me over the line. I watch every day fly off the calendar and just want to stop time and freeze everybody where they are! It's a family joke that I always say they can have a birthday party each year, but nobody's allowed to actually age. I can honestly say that if I could start over and go back to when Caiden was a newborn, I'd do it in an instant. I loved the baby years, the toddler stage, and preschoolers! And yes, I am loving the ages they each are now, but I am having a seriously difficult time with them growing up any more. My mom told me yesterday afternoon when I called her that she's pretty sure I'm going to need counseling when my kids leave the nest--and I could only agree! I love, love, love having children at home.
After the kids played, we walked around the pond and examined a dead turtle, lots of ducks, and minnows. Then, when my sweet friend Erin called, I sort of stopped paying attention so we could talk. (Erin has 5 boys 8 and under and is pregnant with another baby, so if she has time to call, I definitely answer the phone!) I noticed that Caiden "accidentally" fell into the pond, and then Gray and Addie followed suit. They were all three drenched to their necks with slimy, muddy pond water--and they were soooo happy! After I hung up and fished them out, they all stretched out on the sidewalk to dry out, and then we drove home--all three kids stripped down to their underwear.
While I can't say it solved my melancholy about them growing up, the fresh air certainly did help, and the kids had a blast--especially while in the pond. (I did notice on our walk back a sign saying not to wade or swim in the pond! Oops!)
These are the days and moments I'm desperately trying to savor, cherishing each normal moment, not just the milestones. I know I can't keep them from growing up, and that it would be unhealthy and not God's plan for them if I did. I am trying every day to remember that their days with me are a gift, and that I can trust the Giver with them. He is so very good, and He will walk with me each step of the coming years. And if He'd like to slow them down a little, that would be okay with me.October 2011
I keep thinking I will find time to sit here and write in this space, but somehow night comes before it happens, and the only thing I want to do is go to sleep! It has been a busy fall, filled with lots of good things, but I don't think it could get much more full without me going crazy. I get a little panicky when we have lots going on.
Here are unrelated and unorganized pictures of what we've been doing:
Grayson celebrated another birthday last week. I can hardly believe my sweet, chubby, sleepy baby is a sweet, skinny, busy 7 year old! He runs circles around me, but every time I catch him I can't resist stealing a snuggle. He is the sweetest thing ever. (Pardon Addie's face--I think she was mid-cough?)
Grayson joined Scouts this fall. So far his impression is that the meetings aren't fun but that his uniform makes it worth it. He loves dressing up, and the more items a costume has, the better. I think he'll like earning belt loops just so he can add to his uniform! His little snaggle-toothed grin makes me happy.
I discovered last week that if I'll let Addie and Gray fill up the sink with water, they'll spend two hours playing! Sure, the kitchen gets moderately wet, but they will happily wash all the dishes I give them, and they even share their chair relatively nicely.
Obie is our daily pupil. Around an hour after we start school, he joins us upstairs and plays on the drawing table with all the markers. Today he found a bin and spent the entire morning snoozing. He's such a chilled out cat and lets the kids drag him all over the place. We love him! (Notice the peeling table--I discovered the hard way that chalkboard paint peels off plastic tables :(
In the last 20 hours, we have been visited by a large rat snake by my bedroom window (outside), a hawk attack (lost two chicks), Caiden stumbled upon a coyote right behind our garden in broad daylight, we spied an armadillo digging up the backyard this morning, and this little possum was found taking a nap inside the chickens' nest box! I told my husband that we live in a zoo! That's a lot of wildlife in two days, especially since we live inside city limits! I kind of prefer one quiet golden retriever and one sweet cat, but nobody seems to give any weight to my animal preferences!! (Addie renamed Shadow and Saint, our two naughty dogs, "Precious" and "Pumpkin," because she says if they have sweet names, maybe they'll act better.)
So that's what's been going on around here. I'm trying desperately to stay on top of meals and laundry, in addition to juggling allergy shots, physical therapy appointments, Scouts, church, and co op. We've had multiple house maintenance issues, and all of that on top of school each day has me treading water very fast! But God is good and gives me grace every day for it, even if some days nobody has clean socks. Fortunately, with a house of mostly boys, nobody seems to notice.
Everybody is growing up so fast that it makes my heart sad, and I don't want to hurry these days by, just so I can have a quiet and clean house. I know I'll look back someday and wish I could have these years again, but I don't want to look back and wish I'd done them differently. So I'm savoring each day, each mess, each moment of neediness, taking little snapshots in my mind so they don't disappear.October 2011
An Article on Guineas
My name is Caiden, and I own chickens and guineas.
If you love your guineas as babies, they will love you. You can put food in front of you, then wait for them to come over. When they do, you can pet them and they will not run away.
Guineas are good for many things: they rid your garden of pests and don’t destroy your plants; they are like alarm birds and can be used as roosters; they are not aggressive at all; they eat snakes, grasshoppers, and ticks. You have to protect them from snakes in the beginning, because rat snakes will constrict and eat them. So you have to sink wire around the edges of their enclosure and leave a little door so they can get out, and put chicken wire so they can see and get used to the other chickens.
Keep them in the coop for the first two months, so they’ll grow attached and not wander away. When you let them outside, you have to watch them and always love on them so they will always love on you and return to their coop.