Saturday, October 29, 2011

Book Worm is an Understatement!

This evening Kimball and I worked together to make up his bed with clean sheets. Since has a full sized loft bed, I sent him up top and asked him first to pass down to me anything that wasn't bedding. I expected five or six books, but here is what I got:

  • Ivanhoe
  • 2 Roald Dahl books
  • Leven Thumps volumes 1, 2, and 4
  • The Bronze Bow
  • 2 Star Wars Cookbooks
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  • 3 library books about magic (for his Halloween costume)
  • The Book of Think
  • Obessessed with Star Wars
  • A Star Wars Fandex
  • The most recent issue of Lego Magazine
  • A take out menu to our favorite sushi place (the kind with photos of all the sushi rolls)
  • Canterbury Tales (A kid's version)
  • Much Ado About Nothing (The Shakespeare Can Be Fun series)
  • Tennis Shoes Among the Nephites
  • a Kindle guide (yes, all these books, AND he owns a Kindle!)
  • The Time Travelers
  • 3 chapter books for 2nd graders that I'd checked out for Ian
  • 4 picture books he'd swiped from his younger siblings' bookcases
By the time he passed down the tenth book I was laughing, but by the time we got all of them down, we were both hysterical. That's 26 books, a magazine, a fandex, a users' guide, and a menu! Perhaps we need to change his bedding more often!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Lunch Date

In a family with five kids, having quality one-on-one time with them can be challenging. I will admit that on a daily basis, they get a few moments of one-on-one, but not usually big chunks of time all to themselves. In order to guarantee a little more individual face time, Jared and I try to take them out on a lunch date one at a time. We are not consistent with it-- it seems to happen more in spurts-- but it is something that our kids really look forward to.

As long as it is reasonable, we let them choose the venue for their date. Sometimes a kid chooses to grab some fast food and go to the park together. The older boys like to choose a restaurant where they can get dessert or chips and salsa (or both). Bronwen prefers a cupcake date.

This Friday, it was Ian's turn for some one-on-one. He picked me (Jared usually gets these dates) and said he wanted to have lunch at Bel Air, our local grocery store. I was really in the mood for restaurant food, but we only had an hour before we needed to be home, and I reminded myself that this was HIS date, not mine, so off we went.

We perused their prepared lunches section. I chose a roast beef and fontina sandwich on a sourdough roll, Ian found a little lunchbox with a turkey sandwich, goldfish, applesauce, and a juice box. We also grabbed his favorite potato chips (gotta love Lay's), some shortbread cookies from the bakery, which we planned to share with the others when we returned, and a doughnut for him. Okay, so I never claimed that these dates were healthy.

We sat outside at a little bistro table and Ian talked my ear off. If you know Ian, that wouldn't surprise you one bit; but what surprised me is that he dropped the goofy act that he often uses to get attention. He wasn't babbling nonsense, he didn't use baby talk-- no signs of the silly personality he uses with the family (except when the camera came out). Instead, he talked about things that interested both of us. He told me all about school and his classroom (his favorite part is his teacher, he said), about new friends he has made, and about ways that he has gone out of his way to be kind to other kids in his class.

It was a delightful hour spent, and it reminded me how much we both needed some extended one-on-one time with each other. It also allowed me to peek at a side of my own son that I don't get to see often enough. I am so proud of the young man that he is becoming.

How do you meet the challenge of giving your kids one-on-one attention? Tell me I am not the only one who struggles with this!

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Voices in My Head

4:30AM. The alarm clock wakes me up. Today, I get out of bed quickly and head for the bathroom, thinking, "That was a decent night's sleep. No one woke me up in the middle of the night." I calculate and realize that I slept for 6 1/2 hours. That's when the voice in my head, the one I've decided to name Fat Girl, pipes in.

FG: Six and a half hours!? You think that's good? You'll need more than that if you are going to get your to-do list done today, let alone get through the day without yelling at your kids!

Luckily, Skinny Girl was awake this morning, too, so the battle in my head commenced.

SG: Sure, it would feel good to sleep some more, but you have to be up by 6:00 anyway to get the kids up and off to school. You haven't been to spin class in two weeks. You need this.

FG: You can go on Wednesday. Your spin buddy is out of town, after all. And they may run out of bikes before you get there. You don't have one reserved, remember?

SG: Oh, brother. How many times are you going to buy that excuse?

FG: And what about your hair? If you go back to bed, you won't have to wash it today.

SG: What about your jeans? You want them to keep getting tighter? Maybe move up a size?

At this point, I am leaning towards Skinny Girl and begin getting dressed. Fat Girl gives up-- for a while. I am 20 minutes into spin class when she shows up again.

FG: I'm tired. Can't you switch to a lower gear? Maybe just stay for half the class and then go do some weight lifting? Or head home and get a head start on the day?

SG: Ugh. Would you please leave me alone?! If I made the effort to come, I might as well get a decent workout in.

This morning, Skinny Girl was louder than Fat Girl, but it doesn't always work that way. And they don't just put in their two cents about workouts. Oh, no, they have lots to say when I am grocery shopping, when I am home alone with chocolate in the house, or when I'm running errands a little too near the cupcake place.

That's why I've decided to give them such decisive names. I know that I should be aiming toward Healthy Girl instead of Skinny Girl and I don't have anything against fat people. I just thought I'd take a page from the spin doctors who come up with powerfully suggestive names in order to sway how we think of things. I thought of a few examples, but I try to keep this blog from being overly political, so I'll just leave it up to your imagination:) Anyway, I figured that calling that negative voice in my head "Fat Girl" might make it easier for me to find the strength to shut her up more often than if I called her "Relax and Enjoy Yourself Girl".

How do you stop the voices in your head? I'd love to use some of your strategies, so please share.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Seasons Change

"To every thing there is a season and a time to every purpose under the heaven." Ecclesiates 3:1

Four years ago, we started a wonderful adventure that we hadn't anticipated: homeschooling. I knew at the time that it might not be the right thing for us for our kids' entire educational careers, but we knew it was the right thing for our family at the time. Over the past four years, I grew to love homeschooling and the lifestyle it allowed us. I loved the time together the most. Sure, we had plenty of spats, of teasing, of crying, of all the typical sibling conflicts and mommy meltdowns, but we also had lot of fun together, lots of spiritual experiences together, and lots of learning together. We learned to cooperate more and to deal with our differences in a way that we might not have done if we were all going our separate ways for most of the day.

This year, the direction we got from Heavenly Father was different. It made me feel sad, scared, nervous, excited (for them), guilty, hopeful, and a slew of other emotions. At first, we only had the guts to commit Henry and Ian to returning to school in a new charter school, but as the school year approached, we began to feel strongly that Kimball should participate as well. Much like our decision to homeschool four years ago, this decision was one that we spent lots of time praying and agonizing over, and in the end, proceeded with the confidence that it was the right choice for our family.

So, on the day after Labor Day (which is the perfect day to start school, by the way), our boys donned their new uniforms, grabbed their backpacks, lunch sacks, water bottles, and set off for school. I am sure that I was more nervous than they, and I am the only one who cried that morning. I managed to keep it to moist eyes until I kissed Ian good-bye in his first grade class and had to bolt out the door because Ugly Cry was coming on fast.

So far, we have been too busy to miss them much during the day. Bronwen did remind me the first day about 100 times to go get her brothers from school, but once her co-op preschool and ballet class started up, we found ourselves quite scheduled during the school day. I also jumped into the new charter school with both feet and took a big role on the fundraising committee as we did a huge kick-off fundraising dinner and auction event last weekend. People ask me what I am doing with the extra time I presumably have because I am not schooling my children all morning, but I haven't found any extra time!

The boys are all making new friends, rising to new heights, gaining confidence, and learning loads of interesting things every day. Kimball even moved up to 7th grade after three weeks in 6th! We are all adjusting to them having less free time and more homework and deadlines, but I remind myself that they are learning some discipline that wasn't necessary when I was their teacher. It is good for all of us.

I am so grateful for the homeschooling season of my life, and look forward to the ways that my family will be blessed by this new season. Will we ever return to homeschooling? Maybe. We're just taking it one year at a time. But for now, I know that my kids are just where they need to be, and that feels wonderful.