Thursday, June 24, 2010

Oh My!

Good gravy!  Is it seriously almost July?  Whether it's a visit to the pool, homeschool and playing at home, or just a brief playdate, we have been busy and June is zipping by.  Our homeschool time is an abbreviated version of what we'll do when we return from vacation, but it's been interesting to see how this might work.  Or not work!  I am already noticing things that I'll have to tweak - Jack's math time takes my complete attention.  He never did master time telling in that he can look at the clock and tell what time it is, but asking him to rephrase it to explain in relation to the previous hour or coming hour is really difficult for him still.  He gets easily frustrated and I am practicing every breathing technique I know to not show my own frustration!  It's hard when some bit of understanding or knowledge has become so ingrained that you cannot imagine not knowing it!  He also needs to gain some speed in his math facts so that multiplication won't do him in!
Ella-Kathryn is sailing right along but that doesn't mean that she doesn't need me too.  I am trying to figure out how to juggle their lessons so that I can be present for each of them.  Initially I counted on doing the same subject for each at the same time; however, I am beginning to rethink this in terms of needing one to be "busy" while I instruct the other.  I also have been searching for a different History book because a phone call from a friend who will also be homeschooling for the first time prompted me to look more closely at the text I had originally selected.  It's flawed and confusing - not good for me or the kids!  I can still use it as a backup, but I need a "spine" text - that is the primary one.  Jeff's slated to read a sample of one that I found last night, and let me tell you how excited he is about that!  The man's only caveat to our opting to homeschool was that he wouldn't be asked to "teach" them anything other than PE and shop:) 
The bigguns started VBS this week and have enjoyed it so far.  Jack had to miss last night because he was running a fever and when Ella-Kathryn got home she too was hot and didn't feel well.  I'm sure they got it from Will who was sick on Sunday. Of course I didn't figure that out until after he had been at church for 2 services!  I stepped back into my old volunteer position to help out for the day so the kids had to stay in their classes longer than they have in almost a year.  Can't believe it's already been that long!  I just shake my head in amazement that Ryan will be 1 in only a couple of months!  Anyway, Jack and EK are both better this morning, so I'm hopeful it was truly a 24 thing. That's how Will's seemed to be and I didn't feel great Tues, but was better by Wed.  It's like Roulette - round and round she goes, who will get sick, nobody knows:)

Ryan's first trip to the pool!  He loved the water and was so cute in the big pool with me.  He stuck his booty up and "kicked" his legs like he was swimming the Butterfly.  Uncle C. would be so proud!

The VBS theme this year is Saddle Up and this was her first project a horse hat.  Last night she came home with a stick horse - can't wait to see what tonight brings!
OK, so I think that brings us up to speed around here!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Treasure Found

I took the kids over to Compton Gardens and the Crystal Bridges walking trail yesterday.  Bentonville is doing an amazing job of creating an interconnected series of trails through downtown, the coming soon Crystal Bridges museum, and Memorial park.  It was quite hot yesterday, but we needed something to do and I figured most of the trail was in the shade but is also paved so I could push the stroller, so it was a better alternative to some of the trails around us.  Anyway, it was really quite beautiful, and the kids enjoyed getting to know the different kinds of flowers and plants as well as seeing how far the construction work has come since Aug (when we were there last.)  We even got to see a deer hiding in the trees.  Thankfully this one wasn't hurt, unlike our last experience with one!  A story for another day...On our way back to the car, the kids were walking on the bike trail which runs parallel to the walking trail, but is certainly more fun to them since it includes tree trunks and huge boulders!  At one point Jack excitedly yells to me that he's found an arrowhead.  He runs to me and shows me the above photographed flint.  I am skeptical, but tell him it's nevertheless a cool find.  Fast forward to this morning.  We had planned on taking the kids to the Museum of Native American History, another little gem here in Bentonville.  The couple who own it have done so with their own money and keep it open at no charge.  They recently remodeled it and it's really a very nice and manageable facility.  We told Jack to bring his arrowhead with him, in case there was someone there who could help us identify it.  We were the first ones there this morning and had the place to ourselves for almost our entire visit - which was nice with the kids!  They were amazing by the way - really behaved themselves and had a good time with the learning wands provided.  When we first got there, we explained about our find and she said she would call her dad to have him come in and take a look at it.  He arrived about 15 minutes later and when he inspected it he confirmed that it was indeed a real Native American arrowhead and astonishingly, it is probably about 10,000 years old!  How cool it that!  We credit Poppy's eagle-eye training in hunting for shark's teeth:)  Needless to say we were all very excited and I told Jack I would get a shadow box to put it in with  a little snippet about the story. 

The first exhibit is this Mastodon skull - quite impressive!  Especially with Jeff's head in the back:)  Ella-Kathryn is in trying to blow a bubble for the camera and Will is saying "cheeseburgers!"

This is what Ryan did during his visit to the museum:)                                                                                    

Ella-Kathryn and I loved the beautiful dresses - they were so intricately decorated.  Sorry about the flash glow.  These rooms were rather dark.
Jack and Ella-Kathryn using the learning wands.
Outside there is a huge TeePee/Tipi (i've seen it spelled both ways.) 

Summer Vacation...

Monday our friends T and M came for the day.  It was one of those awful summer days where it's sunny for 30 minutes and then storming for 30 minutes.  A rather schizophrenic day!  So, the kids did their best to stay busy.  T and Jack whittled some sticks into very sharp spear things.  I know.  What mom in her right mind allows boys to make weapons, let alone play with them.  Alas, this is what the boys are into right now and they have demonstrated the ability to use the pocket knives safely. So there you have it. 
Will made his own fun by eating his candy in the laundry basket:)  Our sweet neighbor J is an avid golfer and often comes home with goodie bags filled with treats and fun things like crayons.  Having no grands of her own, she has kindly adopted ours and always share these sweet and treats with them!

Ok, this I had to share.  Ryan is usually the most pleasant, contented baby. But, and this is a big but, when he's mad, he's really mad!  He screams and clenches his fists or squeezes his hands together so tightly I think he'll hurt himself.  These are 2 pics of him in hissy fit because no one would get him out of the highchair:)

On Wedensdays Jeff comes home and then naps for a few hours before getting up in an effort to start a "normal" schedule til Sat. night when he goes back on shift.  It's really a tough gig, and we try to help him as best we can, but when you miss your daddy, you just plum need to be around him.  Poor Jeff was trying to get to bed and the kids just gravitated to the bedroom to be with him.  He had put in a movie and as you can see by the "we've become pod people" look in their eyes, they had gotten sucked in too.  Except of course where you can see the 2 bigguns noticed that I had a camera and made sure they had on their picture faces:)
P.S. - I told Jeff I woul crop these so that you couldn't tell he was in his "drawers," but when I did it made it look like he was neked. So sorry if these offend anyone, but it looked way worse the other way!
P.S.S. Note Ryan snoozing away - sweet boy was so tired that morning, finally fell asleep while everyone was in there horsing around, and slept on for another hour after this was taken!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Jack has always been the kind of kid who ponders.  Thinks deep.  Really seems to grapple with some heavy stuff. Then proceeds to throw it back at me in the hopes that I somehow went to seminary in my sleep and am now a theological genius.  Um, well, not really son.  I did dream that daddy's coworkers came to pick him up for a class and they had parked with their headlights shining in my bedroom window so I woke up and saw a carload of men staring at me which caused me to panic bacause I thought daddy was late for his class which made my heart race and made me wake up for real.  But I digress...
so today on the way home from Wal-Mart Jack asks if we can speak in private when we get home.  I say sure, but what's it about because maybe we can go ahead and talk now.  He says it has to do with God and hate.  Oh boy.  I say go ahead, let me have it.  The short version is that sometimes he feels like on the outside he believes and loves God, but on the inside his heart is hard and dark (yes he used those words) and that he might not love God.  Furthermore (no he did not say that word) he was concerned because it felt like it was easier and more fun to not follow God and he was worried that satan was in his heart, not God. 
Me - deep breath.  Ok, so this is how I responded:  Jack, that's perfectly normal.  Mommy struggles with this too, feeling like satan is after my heart and boy howdy wouldn't it be easier to not walk with the Lord cause my flesh says ooh yeah, that will taste good, look good, seem good in the here and now.  I encouraged  him to spend some more time with the Lord every day.  Really get to know this God he wants to love and follow.  Pray for protection from these spiritual attacks (he's already been baptized so I also explained that this comes with the territory of being a believer, these battles between light and dark for his soul) and I told him that I would put out an SOS to his family and friends to step up their prayers for him.  So, please do pray for him.  Pray for peace and answers to his questions and that he would grow to feel some level of comfort in this in-between place of belief and doubt.  I am sad that he has inherited this doubting Thomas trait from me, but perhaps in examining his faith so early in his life, he can move forward towards a spiritual maturity that I myself have yet to obtain.  There's more to be said here, but Ryan is trying to push every button on the keyboard which makes is pretty dang hard to type anything.  I'll revisit this in another post.
Oh yeah, and about an hour later he says to me, "Mom, I'm just not understanding what love is.  I mean what is it , what does it mean? why do we say I love you to people? "  Come on dude!  Give me a break.  Can't you just pee on the bathroom floor like your little brother.  That I can handle. This stuff is going to do me in!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Big brother

Tuesday was the last day of school for Jack and Ella-Kathryn.  As per tradition I picked them up in my decorated-for-summer car:  I write welcome to summer vacation on the sides and then on the back , "so long school!"  This year, of course, it means so much more to our family.  Our decision to homeschool brings some bittersweet thoughts too.  Will this be our last, last-day-of-school pickup?  Will I be nostalgic for those back-to-school-days of fall?  More importantly though, am I really going to do this homeschool thing???  We still feel led to do this, but I'm not gonna lie, there are days when I wonder if I am truly capable of this calling.  Much like motherhood, it seems as if there will be days that will be too overwhelming to handle.  I know in my heart that these will be days of utter reliance on Him, but could someone please tell that to my head?  I will be attending a used homeschool book sale next Sat. and whatever I can't find there I will be purchasing the following week.  Anxieties about choosing the "right" math program are plaguing me right now, but again, I am trying to give it over to Him. 
Wed was our first official day of summer vacation so we didn't do a dang thing!  My sweet girlfriends and I got together for one last hoorah, all of the kids included this time, and we were able to visit and gab for hours, minus all of the time we had to referee, fix boo-boos, and refill water and donuts!  K and A have become such good friends and I so enjoy their company.  K's daughter C stayed on for some playtime with Ella-Kathryn and when I dropped her off in the afternoon, K blessed us with a meal!  It was much appreciated too, since I had been so busy visiting with those ladies I never got around to making a dinner plan! 
Thurs. we hung out around the house and Jeff took Jack and Will out and about getting preparations for their fishing trip.  I mowed while Ryan took his morning nap and EK listened for him on the monitor - so nice having such big helpers!  Then after he woke up, he sat with me outside while I weeded.  Except for trying to eat a wood chip, he just enjoyed being outdoors.  Such a sweet boy!  So Ryan and I are on our own this morning as Jeff has the three bigguns on a fishing expedition.  They're hoping to catch some Trout and Walleye (sp?) and I'm just praying they stay safe!  I tend to get a bit worried when he takes them out by the water.  I know how hard it is to keep track of 3 just around the house, so being out somewhere different tends to bring on all kinds of unnecessary anxiety!  Just hope they catch something, but I know the time with their Dad is just as meaningful.
I did manage to snap these pics Wed afternoon. It was about 3:30 and Ryan hadn't had his afternoon nap yet.  Jack asked to hold him and I was happy to oblige so that I could gather up everything/one to get C home.  The next thing I know, I look over and Ryan had fallen asleep on Jack!  It was truly one of the most precious things I've ever seen. 
He is such a good big brother and really I feel blessed that for the most part these siblings like each other.  I just hope they continue to care for one another and only grow closer as they get older.
Ella-Kathryn really wanted to take a picture of Ryan yesterday.  I obliged and this was the pic she got - totally captures his little spirit!  Arms outstretched with excitement, and although you can't see them, I can tell you the legs are just as taut and the toes are splayed as if the joy was riding a current from him belly straight out of each toe!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

We're almost finished!

As the last few days of school come and go there have been many parties, field trips, and all around fun!  The whole 2nd grade got to head down to the park down the street for a cookout and some time outside. It was HOT, but they had a great time.  Jeff helped man the grill for some yummy hotdogs, and after Ryan caught a morning nap, the littles and I met up with them. 

Will is doing awesome with potty training!  He is pretty much finished, minus a few accidents here and there.  Poop is the biggest issue, but he's doing great, just still hesitant:)  Here you can see how big his underpants really are - he's just so stinkin' tiny.  I can't find any size 2, only 2-3T, so I'll head down to yet another Wal-Mart tomorrow to check them out.  Yesterday before the Farmer's Market he was dressing up and Jeff was laughing so hard at his little cowboy.  Will walks around saying "When I big, I..." and he fills in whatever activity Jack does like shooting the BB gun, walking in the woods, riding his bike in the street etc.  Wish I could convince him not to be in such a hurry to be big.

We got more blueberries at the Farmer's Market, so I made some homemade whipped cream to go with our shortcakes for dessert.  Ain't nothin' better than homemade whipped cream and it's so easy. Please don't by the stuff in the tubs!  I promise it's easy and soooooo good:)  If you don't believe me, these faces should convince you!

After church today we played some more dress-up.  Ella-Kathryn put on Jack's old Upward's Bball jersey and later when I told her to get changed since we had to run an errand, she looked up at me  and said, "but mom, I'm a Jersey girl." Ha!  If only she knew what Jersey girls really looked like:)  Will finally fits into Jack's old knight set and thought it was alot of fun.  In the second pic, his funny face is because he's saying, "Cheeseburgers!"
Last, but never least, this little man is 10 months old!  Whew!  Where did that time go?  I cannot believe that this time last year, Jack was finished with 1st grade and we were anxiously counting down the weeks til we went to FL.  Then, when we got back I went in to my OB b/c I thought I was leaking fluid and bam - Ryan was born! 
Clearly, he is none the worse for his trials and while we are still waiting for him to crawl, he is our precious baby boy, full of snorts and laughter.  Yes, you read that right, he snorts when he laughs and that sends us into hysterics.  Does anyone want me to get some of that homemade whipped cream to put on those cheeks before they take a nibble?