Thursday, May 31, 2007

when does mommy get a break?

i mean, really...when????

i'm just going to whine a bit now...feeling like i just need to get it out of my system. ignore this post if you don't want to hear it because its not going to be pretty...but sometimes ya just gotta whine, ya know?

so we just got back from our "vacation", which was seriously more work than being home! supposed to be the opportunity to have a little peace and have the kids entertained at least a little here and there by nana/bompa while adam and i hopefully relaxed, just for a few minutes, on the beach...that sort of thing...ah, what a dream that was! i really thought that sounded so wonderful! but that didn't happen of course since adam wasn't even on the vacation with us mostly. so i spent 3 days essentially as a single parent...with grandparent help, of course...not completely without help...but not the same as daddy help. i was on 24/7 still. which of course, is being a parent, i know...but this vacation was supposed to allow us a little bit of break here and there, and i don't really think i got a single bit of that. ugh. *sigh* so no break for mama on vacation...and in a strange environment, tyren was even more work ...and maeven at times too...as meltdowns were pretty regular for both of them, whenever tired or hungry, which was often. and my parents don't have the patience to deal with it nor do i want them to have to deal with it. so that would be me...when normally daddy would be doing his best to help out. so i had maeven getting whiney just about every day for wanting ice cream or something to eat (she's the pickiest eater i know) or wanting to go in the pool...and being out of sorts from spending all day in the sun and water, at the pool or beach...and just exhausted and out of her element...and tyren bored to tears most of the time and getting into just about every mischief possible because he's just not into toys much and nothing we brought along with us kept him busy for long...and screaming in a hotel room while being shushed by everyone as we stressed over him disturbing neighbors...oh my god it was exhausting. and the suite was so NOT child proofed, of course (wouldn't expect it to be), so having to keep on him constantly ...thank god for dvds and cable and tv...kept him busy a lot with that...of course there were times to play at the playground and in the pool and the beach...but that was so tiring and we only had the 3 days--first day we didn't do anything because we got there late...second day we spent half the day eating bfast at denny's, then grocery shopping...then after we got back to the hotel, tyren had his nap while maeven went to the pool with nana...and when he woke up i took him down there too...that was fun. tiring but fun. :) next day it was half the day at the pool again for maeven and then we went to the beach for half a day where tyren finally crashed and took his nap in my arms. so its not like i actually get a lot of a break even when he sleeps, cuz he tends to sleep in my arms...wakes up when i try to put him down and then on vacation i just didn't even bother trying much because in the strange environment i knew it just wouldn't work. so really...what break did i get while i was gone? well sorta in the car...some...cuz they were both strapped in...but i did spend a lot of time handing things to them and changing dvds and trying to find things to keep tyren from screaming. luckily he sleeped for some of it. and maeven did pretty good for the car rides. so i got some break there, a little...and at least when tyren napped, even though he was in my arms, he was quiet and i could watch tv or read. in between struggling with him when he wakes up and squirms and thrashes, which he often does.

and legoland was just a lot of work. fun, but work. even with adam there...tyren got all cranky around naptime, as expected, and i thought he'd go to sleep easily and i could put him down in the stroller...NOOOooooooo, not my little stinker butt. he wouldn't stay asleep whenever i tried to put him down. i tried THREE TIMES! i ended up just having to hold him for his entire nap at legoland...wasted an entire hour...actually more (and he only actually slept about 40-45min or so) when we could have been doing something...ok, he's a toddler so he still needs to nap. not a huge deal, but frustrating because they're only open til 5 and time was running out. sooooo, did i get to go on many rides? nope. kept sending maeven to go on rides with daddy and nana and bompa. i got to stay with the baby most of the time...well its not a huge deal..except that last time i had to do the same thing cuz he was just a tiny baby then and couldn't be away from me...this time i did get to try a couple things at least. next time he'll be bigger. i did feel a little resentful though that this is our 2nd time to legoland since tyren's birth and i've yet to be able to go on any of the real fun rides...just the little baby rides with tyren. which is fun, yes, but i'd like to go on a roller coaster or 2 at some point too. well he'll not be a baby forever. out of his element he really wanted to be with mommy more than anyone, so of course i won't deprive him of that. but again...no mommy break. not a big deal, but tiring.

ok just tired and venting here...don't mind me...i'll get it out of my system and move on soon.

ok so we've determined vacation was fun, but not relaxing for me. poor mommy. woe is me. :(

now lets look at my daily life as far as mommy breaks are concerned. since i'm already feeling sorry for myself...might as well go all the way...

starting in the morning, tyren starts thrashing next to me as soon as the sun starts to come up...a good hour or more of thrashing and me being woken up constantly from about day break...if i'm lucky he settles down again for a little while and i can fall back asleep finally after about an hour or 2 of the thrashing...sometimes i wake up fully and once he gets settled i get up and find a little time on the computer for about a 30-60min span of bliss...uninterrupted computer time...ahhh, that doesn't happen much! then he's up...often he wakes me up and i don't get that uninterrupted time...usually he's up between 7 and 7:30amish. sometimes i'm up an hour prior, sometimes not. so then its just me and tyren while maeven and daddy sleep a little later...weekends daddy continues to sleep til about 10ish when i start to get really pissed that HE gets to sleep in and i NEVER get to. (although sometimes i am still in bed when he leaves for work at like 7:45am so he thinks i get to sleep in...but what he doesn't see is that 9 times out of 10 tyren has me up less than 10 min after adam leaves for work...its not like i EVER get to sleep past 8am...8:30am would be just amazing to get to sleep too...and is really late to me now.) usually just a little while before maeven's up...she's been getting up earlier and earlier lately...although still usually not til between 8 and 9am. tv on for the kids to let me catch up on some email and start bfast. but usually get all kinds of interruptions of cranky kids...diaper changes needed (he usually poops in the morning) and sibling fights and tyren getting into things he shouldn't and maeven demands of all kinds...wanting me to get her this that and the other thing.

after that depends on the day where we go from there...starting monday the schedule will change as we'll be fitting more school time in, since i'm starting to officially charlotte mason homeschool on monday. so lets just lump the morning into a big session of eating, playing and attempting to do schoolwork without the baby throwing too many fits and somehow fit some laundry and dishes into the morning as well. oh and somewhere in there we all get dressed. sometimes. LOL. earlier if we have to go somewhere. oh and the daily hair brushing fight with maeven. fun.

then lunch, which sometimes is home, sometimes out...then nap for tyren sometime after that...which sometimes is easy, sometimes hard...if we're out and about running errands or whatnot, its just wonderful because he'll often fall asleep in the car. i LOVE mondays because we get out of the house early and go to the discovery center where i chase after tyren while maeven does her science class and i get to get a tiny bit of adult conversation with fellow homeschool moms in between chasing after tyren...and then we usually eat out and then head to jen/thea/clem's house to play...which tyren usually falls asleep in the car and i get to sit in the car during his nap for a blissful reading time in the shade of a mulberry tree while maeven runs and plays. god i LOVE that time. sometimes he doesn't sleep long though. :( and then i get to chase after him to keep him in view...but often he'll play nearby while i get to chat with cindy and jen (homeschooling moms too, moms of the kids maeven plays with)...and that is just wonderful...LOVE LOVE LOVE mondays. and that's the whole day til we go home to meet daddy after work. fun day.

the rest of the week...different each day but essentially the days revolve around us eating and tyren's nap. once the nap happens (sometimes early, sometimes later) everything stops and we are all on hold. sometimes maeven entertains herself. sometimes we haven't had lunch yet so we have to wait til he wakes up cuz i can't put him down and i cannot fix lunch with a 33lb baby in my arms. and sometimes, more and more lately, thank god, i can actually get him down in the bedroom for short periods and actually accomplish a little housework or a little school work or special snuggle time with maeven. that's a wonderful time.

then the afternoons when its getting closer to daddy coming home...meltdown time for all of us and by the time daddy is home i'm at whit's end and exhausted and no patience left. baby has meltdowns left and right as we try to figure out what to eat for dinner...and making dinner...and i HATE cooking so its stressful enough. we eat LATE cuz we put it off every nite. and i HATE grocery shopping so we often have to eat out cuz there's just nothing to put together. *sigh* that's changing slowly though cuz that's one of my goals. working on it.

so daddy comes home tired from a long day at work...often working late so i'm even more frazzled because i've had an hour or more of hearing that he's not coming home yet and i'm ready to throw the kids at him by the time he gets home. and run out the door. doesn't happen, but one can dream!

then bedtime is shortly after dinner...we eat all our meals late late late...same time span between them as other people...just our meals are later by a few hours. dinner which usually involves a struggle with our picky eaters and everyone melting down at the end of the day and tyren clinging to me like a 33lb barnacle despite "fun daddy" trying to entertain him, but he wants nothing to do with that, oh no, of course not...and i collapse in the rocking chair after wrestling the baby into pjs and a new diaper and nurse him to sleep while i get to watch tv and adam is putting maeven to bed. god i love that time. i almost always fall asleep and stagger to bed with tyren a couple hours later...before midnite. pretty typical day.

oh and then bedtime with a nursing cosleeping toddler. i wouldn't have it any other way right now cuz i know that's what he needs...and honestly i love sleeping with the children right there (maeven is in her twin bed over next to daddy's side of the bed)...but tyren hasn't always slept well...in fact more often then not he is a crappy sleeper...lately not so bad, but not great. he is a thrasher...and he nurses much of the nite. so even in my sleep i get no break.

so tell me...where in there does mommy get any kind of a real break? and i have people in my life...multiple people who shall remain nameless...who think i should somehow in there be able to be keeping my house clean too? yeah right!

and then i have my darling husband who tries to help but the baby won't let him take him off my hands much of the time...and anytime i go out for some time away from the baby...like today maeven and i went to go get a silk moth box since we needed one with a lid...more on silk moths later...its always a big deal for me to leave the baby, either on the baby's part (crying) or daddy's part (very hesitant for me to go since he doesn't want to baby to freak out)...and i end up only getting to be gone for like 30min or so before i'm getting a phone call saying the baby is crying for me and to come home and grumpy daddy and baby when i get back. ugh.

so where oh where do i get a break? i sure as hell am done with having kids cuz i'm not going through this phase again...toddlerhood is the hardest phase so far. i know he will outgrow it eventually...but i tell ya i'm on the verge of insanity much of the time. i know any mom reading this that is currently parenting young children can relate. i'm not unique. i just needed to vent.

its my blog, i get to vent when i want to. so nyah! *sticking tongue out*

there...mommy whine finished...back to our regularly scheduled...break-less...grind.

(hell, i'd even take the childless, big ole poop break that daddy gets! *I* don't get that! i get company in the bathroom usually! and never that length of time! not that i need it...but i'd take it if i could!)

ok really done whining now. can i have some cheese now?

shortened vacation

well we made it through what has been a very difficult time this past week. we found out last week that adam's mother was going to have open-heart surgery to put a defibulator into her already badly damaged heart. apparently she had a dr's appt on monday may 21 and got all the info to make her decision about the surgery...came to a decision to go for it on wed that week and then called thursday to have it scheduled. got the run around from the office saying the dr wouldn't be in again til the next monday, the 28th. so that would be the earliest that she would be able to find out anything about when the surgery would be. despite that, she called again the next day to see if she could find out more...no go. she wouldn't be able to call again til monday the 28th.

problem for us, in the meantime, is that we were scheduled to leave on a week's vacation on sunday morning, with my parents. (the only way we are ever able to go on vacation is because my parents pay for our accomodations via their time shares they own and we carpool and they pay for gas and they pay for most of our food while we're there too...we pitch in as we can...but they are so very generous and wonderful about including us in their vacations about once a year or so...we are so very thankful for their kindness because otherwise we'd never get out of here and do anything like this.)

so now we're stuck in limbo and adam decides the best thing would be for me and the kids to head down to carlsbad with my parents and for him to stay behind and find out what was going to happen, on monday...he didn't want to drive down sunday just to have to turn around and come back if she ended up finding out monday that her surgery was going to be tuesday. apparently her dr had really wanted her surgery to be the week that she first learned of it...but that wasn't in the cards so we all figured it would be scheduled pretty quick as soon as she was able to get ahold of someone to schedule it.

so adam stayed and we took the 6hour drive with my parents...adam stayed in fresno. monday came and apparently my mother-in-law got the runaround AGAIN from these people at her dr's office...because they weren't in! it was memorial day, so not really a surprise, but on thursday she was told to call on monday because someone would be there....but they weren't. so...there goes ANOTHER day down the toilet for adam to be part of his vacation. *sigh* not anyone's fault (well, the dr's office, i suppose), but frustrating nonetheless. this is a man that has busted his ass quite a lot lately with extra hours and he really deserved that vacation! but not to be helped...like i said...no one to blame, just yucky situation all around.

so...tuesdays morning comes and finally he gets word that the surgery is finally scheduled--for thursday afternoon. yay and *sigh* at the same time. at that point we had been hoping it would be the following week--2 reasons--1, of course because we hoped that her need for the surgery was less dire since she seemed to be doing better (of course, would be preferable that she didn't need it all, but less pressing would have felt less scary) and 2, because smack in the middle of the vacation week meant adam probably wouldn't get any vacation at all. why drive down for just a day or so?

well...adam and i talked and thought and talked and thought about it...we were scheduled to go to legoland for 2 days during the vacation...it was all on hold while we waited to find out about the surgery. tickets were already purchased. the second day came free with the first, so we wanted at least for him to be able to come down and enjoy legoland with us at least one time (he's a serious lego maniac! we've been there before and we love the place!) we also decided that even though the kids and i were having a fun time, for the most part, it was really sad without him...and adam was really seriously sad and lonely the entire time at home all alone by himself much of the time (something that is desired when he knows we'll be back in a short time but when the end is not for a fully week...he was incredibly sad and lonely and he kept saying how he's never been away from us that long, in anticipation of a full week, and he just broke my heart hearing that and feeling it too on my end.)...and of course scared at the same time about his mom. and i couldn't be there with him. i could really feel what he was feeling...it oozed out of his voice when i talked on the phone and i couldn't do anything to help because i was 6 hours away. it sucked! he just kills me with how much he loves us and how he hates being apart from us...just warms my heart and tears me up at the same time! he's just such a sweetie!

anyway so we decided that the best thing would be for him to go ahead and head down. this was tuesday...he'd arrive late tuesday nite, and then spend wed with us at legoland and then thursday we would head back for his mom's surgery...together. we weren't happy being away from him any more so i told him to just come get us. the thought of the rest of the week without him was unbearable. so then he headed down and talk about exciting! watching him walk in that door...my lovable sexy man! :) then i can't remember when we found out...maybe the next day? can't remember...found out his mom's surgery wasn't going to be at 1pm as planned (we figured we'd get up and leave at like 5am and the kids would sleep most of the way)...nope...that got bumped UP to 11am and she was going in at 10am. so there was no way we'd be able to leave in the morning and get there in time to see her before surgery if we left that morning. *sigh* could there be any more changes? geez this week's been a roller coaster!

so we spent the day in legoland...they closed at 5pm...we went back to the hotel to relax and decide what to do. finally decided to eat dinner, pack up the van and head back that night. so adam didn't even get a full day in carlsbad and never even got to see the beach. :( but...we did get back home by 1am-ish and we all got to go see his mom before she went in to surgery the next morning. and MAN are we glad to be home and done with "vacation"!!

latest news is that she made it through surgery and is doing fine...THANK HEAVENS! of course that was the most important thing! and now we still have the rest of this week that adam doesn't have to work...so we still get time with him! not exactly what we had planned...but we'll take it!

phew! that was just too much "vacation" for me! i'm glad to get back to normal life and just move on! geez louise talk about a week!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

CM and more thinking this morning on education

finished my book on charlotte mason last nite (the 2nd catherine levison one)...need to get it back to the library soon, its been requested by someone else. bad me for holding onto it past the due date knowing someone else wanted it! but i wasn't finished! i cannot just turn it back in and not be finished! i hate that! gotta photocopy the resource pages in the back before i turn it in though.

well the good news is that i think i can happily turn back in all these other books now because they are on a variety of educational philosophies and i have decided that CM is the way for me to go. i'm really jazzed about it...but keep reminding myself that i felt this way about enki originally too. then the complexity and depth of it just overwhelmed me. but i do still feel intrigued by enki. so maybe i can find a way to merge the 2...CM and enki...we'll see. enki is just SOOOO expensive, that i just don't know that i'll be able to purchase anymore of their curriculum again. and the fact that i cannot wrap my brain completely around the philosophy really bothers me. CM is very simple and straightforward and i have been able to fully understand and agree with its philosophies quickly. no reading and rereading. its really very clear, i think. i'm reading a new book now on the subject, "a charlotte mason companion" by karen andreola...got it from the library too...another excellent book, and so far pretty easy read too.

i'm going with the free CM curriculum on Ambleside Online...and tweaking things to fit us. found about a zillion egroups on CM and AO, and joined most all of them...lots of them are resource groups to get example schedules and art for printing and booklists and such. really cool to have so much at my fingertips for FREE!

bought maeven a math curriculum finally...had to charge it, but its that important. right start math was recommended by many CM'rs and sounded just wonderful! what drew me to it was several things...its made by a montessori teacher, and i like the very hands-on aspects of montessori and was told by people using it that this is a very hands-on and fun curriculum. then the fact that it uses an abacus was a huge bonus to me. i really enjoyed learning to do math on an abacus when i lived in okinawa, years ago...it was a terrific teaching tool. i'm excited that maeven will get to learn abacus too. a different type of abacus (i used the soroban)...this is how maeven's will look. so its different...but the hands-on learning is still there. and that's what i'm all about.

that's really the problem that i have with so many educational philosophies...the lack of hands-on learning. particularly in the public school model. even most private schools! workbooks and textbooks are NOT hands-on. i don't have a problem with using good ones sparingly...i've even bought some workbooks for maeven (felt weird, but she likes them)...but to base an entire education on photocopies and worksheets and textbooks that cram light facts on huge array of topics into one book in a dry way...that to me just spells a boring education that won't stick.

that's how i view the education i got. boring and didn't stick. that's how i view the public and most private school education and even the school-at-home that many homeschoolers use...because its essentially the same as the public schools, in my mind...although i have to say that it is worlds better to be doing it at home and take out all the negative social factors and have a loving mother as the teacher rather than a stranger who is distracted by so many personalities and duties. WORLDS better!

don't get me wrong, everyone is entitled to their own opinion and how they want to educate their children is entirely up to them (i certainly wouldn't want ANYONE trying to tell me how i "should" be educating my own children!) and they may feel wholeheartedly that their children are getting the best education possible...and they should! i'm just stating my personal beliefs. i have some very distinct and very deep beliefs on education. and the public school model of cramming as many dry facts into my children...as many as possible, to be able to pass some arbitrary test...in what i view as a dull way, not for my kids. i want them to be learning hands-on as much as possible...and using very good literature (what CM terms "living books") really excites me!

really, what's the purpose of education? the biggest purpose? to LEARN, right? so how in the world did all my teachers think that that was what they were accomplishing when very very few of the things that were presented to me in the dull ways they were presented, actually stuck? how many public school kids can later in life relay with any real understanding any of the stuff that was thrown at them in 13yrs of mind-numbingly boring rote and dry exercises? seriously, i always say when i cannot remember something like when something in history happened or who did it or whatever...i always say "hey, i'm a product of public education"...which really does explain a lot, i think. of course i don't remember it. very little of it was ever made REAL to me.

regurgitating facts and memorizing dates and formulas that they have no relationship with doesn't help my children to learn. it means nothing to them. i don't give a damn about test results...when it comes down to it, all i want for my children in regards to homeschooling is for them to REALLY LEARN. i don't care if it means that they don't cover as much as they do in public school...because really...maybe they cover more in public school...but like i say...how much of it do they internalize? how much of it sticks? not much. so my children, to the best of my ability, will be guided to really LEARN...really develop a relationship and intimately know and understand.

take my brother, for instance...2 years younger than me (34yrs) and the smartest person i know. how did he do in school? not well. not horrid, but not well. my brother, the smartest and most book learned and life learned person i know...that uses huge, very educated words and speaks concepts that often go over my head, on a daily basis (in IMs and emails and casual phone conversations even....) my brother did NOT enjoy reading, and did very little of it in school. why? i can't say for sure...but i suspect that it was the method of "teaching". my brother is an AMAZING person...i seriously love to just soak up knowledge by just being around him...and HOW did he come to be so knowledgable? he taught himself! as an adult....long after high school...he became a serious book-reader. as far as i can tell he's been devouring all kinds of complex books ever since. and not only that...but he has lived life in such a way as to educate himself by exposing himself to people and places and experiences that most of us couldn't even dream of! he's been around the world and back again so many times i cannot even keep track! he's lived in many other countries, immersed himself in their cultures and languages and gotten to know intimately their people. and THEN he went back to school to learn more.

is his public school education responsible for who my brother is? are all the boring textbooks and bland worksheets and cut and paste, color-in-the-lines pre-drawn activities and cramming for tests any way responsible for this incredibly educated mind? no way in hell! he got his education AFTER he left the public schools! and i have to say that's exactly what happened to me too!

i went on to college immediately following high school and probably did gleam some actual learning, but not much. got my degree in child development in 4.5yrs. gave me some knowledge, sure...but i really don't value even my college education much anymore. i have learned SOOOOO much more on my own! the college education that i received, for the field that i chose, didn't really give me a whole lot more than my public education, honestly. some, but not much.

so when people talk about college, and how important it is for their children to go on to college...i just don't agree. if my kids want to go to college...sure, i'll 100% support them. and there ARE things that can be learned in college...especially if you're not completely overwhelmed. and of course there are fields that you absolutely cannot go into without a college education. but college is just not so important in my mind if they are not going in a direction like that. my husband has no college education and also did pretty poorly in public school and is just a brilliant person. why? he soaks up all that interests him--through books, the internet, talking to people...just like my brother. he teaches himself how to work the programs that he uses for his job--he's a video photographer/editor and mainly self-taught (other than the original hands-on instruction he got from his dad as a teen...his dad does the same work and has his own biz)

i have a college degree and would say that its for the most part not really done much for me...some, yes...because child development is a topic that i can draw upon even as a mom. especially as a mom! but i don't remember all the stuff i learned in college...i have to look up when kids do what at what ages because it doesn't stick in my brain...i would say that most of the knowledge that has stuck is because of first-hand experience (teaching preschool at a high quality program, harmony day school in sacramento, which, sadly, no longer exists...being an intern at scicon outdoor school...that sort of thing) and lots and lots of reading on my own.

i'm nowhere near as educated as my brother...he travels a lot and soaks up things that don't interest me so much, so are harder for me to understand...i go to him to explain to me international relations type stuff and historical info and such...he recently got his masters in international relations and i do think that level of education definitely has more stickiness to is...it has to, since that's the point, lol.

MY point? hell i don't know, i got off on a tangent...i guess my whole purpose is to find a way to educate my children in a way that actually STICKS...in a way that is deep and meaningful and really helps to mold them into a truly educated person. i just don't feel that any variation of the public school model does this. perhaps i'm wrong...perhaps there are kids out there this works for...but then why is our american education system so crappy and kids are still graduating from high school not able to read? or not interested in reading? i see adults on tv shows that make jokes about how they hate to read and i know this to be the fact in many adults...hating to read...that just blows my mind. reading is so crucial to an educated life.

but not only that...HANDS-ON learning...experiential education. crucial! to build a strong connection. i can't wait for maeven's math curriculum to arrive! and i have silk moth eggs coming next week too...education, here we come! ;)

up early! brain going a million miles a minute already!

i've been awake since probably about 6 or 6:30am...finally snuck outta bed (tyren tends to thrash in the morning when the sun comes up and nurse a lot, so i have to wait til he settles into a deep sleep again...which can take quite some time) ...had to pee and know this is my opportunity to get up and do some computer work uninterrupted and guilt free if i get up early while its still a sleeping house...

yesterday i got quite a lot accomplished! hope to do even more today! yesterday while i was showering (alone, i might add...a real treat!) i asked adam to bring me the baking soda and a scrubber sponge...that tub was disgusting! even blind (without my glasses in the shower) i could see the yuckies, bleh! so i spent a good hour/hour and half in there after i finished my body, scrubbing down that tub and the tile walls. wow what a difference (pat self on back) ...course, near the end, tyren had to come join mommy and "help" scrub the tub...LOL. had to work around him. but still got it all done! not perfect, but pretty dang good if i do say so myself!

and then...when we were outside a little later, i started attacking the weeds in the backyard. we have this patch of pure weeds that i just ignore most of the year, as its the back corner of the yard...between the back of the shed and the corner of our fence...its a pretty big patch, but too much work usually for me. well yesterday i decided it needed to get cleaned up so we could use that area for the children to play in. i have been intending to make a sand box in there for them...decided to make one like this...but bigger. my dad said he found some plastic boards to use to make it. i'm stoked! i want it to be like 8ftX8ft or maybe even 10ftX10ft...i picture it big like the one there was at harmony day school, that preschool i worked at all those years ago...big enough for like 10 children or so! lots of room for imaginations to go wild!

and i want to get a plastic playhouse to put next to it...and a picnic table. i figure we can put the picnic table on one side, up against the shed...and maeven and i can do her school work outside while tyren plays. i've discovered he's happy as a clam for the most part if we are outside...and now that the weather is warm enough, he just goes in a diaper and plays in the water and dirt all day. wonderful to finally have a way to keep him happy and still be able to accomplish things!

he's so cute, he was helping me rake weeds up yesterday. kept grabbing a rake and dragging weeds around...then off to play somewhere else or find daddy, then back again to help again. so funny.

not sure yet what to do with our climbing structures...we have 2 plastic ones...i may put them in this area or i may move them...not sure yet. i want to rearrange the yard more and make it very child-safe and fun. its looking pretty dang good, i must say!
the swings are a huge hit...the kids swing all the time now...maeven finally getting the hang of pumping. at 6.5 i was a little concerned that it was taking her awhile to really get it...but honestly, she just doesn't have a lot of practice time, so its really not her fault. up til recently we didn't spend a lot of time in the yard...and we don't go to parks that often. so when was she supposed to get the time to really practice? she's doing pretty great now though.

i have about half of the area to weed still...adam even helped hula hoe it for awhile yesterday...i'd rake up all the stuff that wasn't attached and he'd come through and hula it and i'd follow him and rake up what he had dug up. what a team! :) i finally got really tired though and had to stop...plus i had inhaled a LOT of dust. still coughing from that.

i was REALLY tired and a little sore last nite after all that work...but the yard is coming along nicely! really exciting to see!

more work to be done today...hmmm...where to start.

Monday, May 14, 2007

my latest passion--charlotte mason education

i know, i know, i just can't seem to stay on any one topic. well my latest passion is charlotte mason education...we'll see where it leads. i've actually been fired up about it before...but lately i've really dug down and learned enough to start using it. i have decided that all the reading on all the different education styles is interesting, but it is just delaying me actually put any to practice. so i'm going to dive into CM and see where it takes us.

what i really love about CM is that it really seems to encompass so many of my beliefs in education...i find it just fascinating! not only that, but it is relatively inexpensive to practice (most books you can check out from the library) and fairly simple to understand the concepts. there's not a hugely deep philosophy to dive deeply into. its very straightforward. the best i've read on the subject were 2 books written by catherine levison: a charlotte mason education and more charlotte mason education (almost finished with this one). ms levison writes so straightforward and i find it very thought provoking and intriguing.

CM is a literature based education. and being the bookworm that i am, i'm all over that! CM would prefer that children get to know deeply and intimately fewer "topics", vs lightly knowing a huge array of topics. the depth of understanding is the key to a good education in CM. but yet CM still advocates for a liberal education...across many topics.

the only thing, so far, that i don't like about CM is the christian aspect. but so far i'm thinking it will be pretty easy for me to eliminate that aspect...there are so many "living books" out there that i do not have to use the ones that are christian biased. being that i am not christian, i'm not interested in teaching this perspective at this time. i'm ok with them learning about christianity, however, alongside islam, judaism, buddhism, hinduism, paganism, and all the other wealth of beliefs out there. i have been fascinated in the world's religions for years. i'm ok with them learning about them all. but do not want a focus on just one...so perhaps i may use some of the christian books that CM recommends, if i can find other books to balance it.

anyway, i am very excited to be reading all i can on CM right now and find so much of what she believes to be right on with my beliefs! i read somewhere recently that CM didn't believe that children were repositories of knowledge...that you cannot just pour facts into them and expect them to stick. this is response to the classical education view that young children need to be taught to memorize facts that they don't understand because they will be able to then draw on them later when they develop to the point of understanding...i just have a problem with lots of memorizing...some, sure...but i just don't feel right about memorizing in large quantities...particularly knowing they cannot yet understand it. so when i read CM's response to this it was like, "YEAH!" i totally agree that its important for a deep understanding of concepts in order for it to be processed and made part of them. otherwise its just all wasted time. which i feel much of my own education was. wasted time. so much attempted to be crammed into me that just didn't stick (because of the way in which it is "taught")

anyway i have a screaming child now (tyren) so i better get back to mommyhood and i'll write more later when i can.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

my beautiful children


we're printing pics for our mothers for mother's day and there's some really great ones...here's a great one i just snagged to share here...god i love these kids! aren't they beautiful? maeven is now 6.5yrs and tyren is 22months...they are really spunky little squirts! drive me nuts daily and i cherish them always! :)

i love this pic of maeven


good lord but the child looks like me!

;)

Monday, May 07, 2007

i WILL get this house in order, DAMMIT!

i cannot believe how long its taking to catch up on everything after babyfest. seriously, i haven't had a clean kitchen in months. and no matter how many dishes i do daily (yes, daily!) i still constantly have counters covered. literally. not a space to work on. its really old. i can't even remember how it started but i'm sure its babyfest related.

i walk around my house and i feel inspired to work but its seriously like shoveling snow during a snowstorm! we all here have bad habits to break...we have turned into major slobs...but the baby...oh lordy...he is the biggest issue! we don't call him "tyren tornado" for nothing! he just runs through the house leaving a path of destruction in his wake!

last nite i was sweeping the filthy kitchen floor (yeah, its still filthy, but i can't stand walking on all the junk so sweeping it helps) and i was telling myself--"tyren won't be little forever...we WILL get our house back in order some day!" and its true...right now i'll keep working on things as much as i can and then i will just keep holding out for him to get older and create less chaos. *sigh* he'll be 2 in july so i suppose we may still have at least a year or so of this major mess stuff...but perhaps once he's 2 he'll start to taper off a little...yeah right, my little destructor. we'll see. a mommy can hope.

in the meantime...today's goal: get clean laundry put away (i won't say "ALL" laundry because if i can't do it all, since there's a LOT, i will feel like a failure...so no goals on how much) and work on dishes.

now, to feel good about this weekend...i mowed the front lawn! yes *I* did it...my husband is not a yard type guy and frankly i like the solitude. i enjoy mowing the lawn as it gives me time to get away from the kiddos for awhile. i am starting to really understand why the experts on all the talk shows say that mommies need to have mommy time. when it was just me and maeven i had a taste of it but now that its me, maeven and "Numbnuts", as i lovingly call my little tyrant tyren...i am clammoring for mommy time. i snag it wherever i can. mowing the lawn is a prime time for me.

so yesterday we did a lot of yard work. mainly because we got cited by the city for having tall weeds (*sigh*, we think we have a neighbor that turns us in) and parking on the dirt and having a tarp and pole structure...argh! but anyway we need to do the yard anyway. so adam went out a few days ago and weed wacked all the edge stuff and yesterday i did the lawn. and then we worked on baelin's garden. i got a lot of weeds pulled and watered it really well and cut back overgrown lavendar and sage. its looking kinda sad right now when you look up close because everything is all growing together and there's not many flowers left. but from a distance, it doesn't look too bad. i'm hoping the flowers will start to come back now that i'm watering it. gotta get some batteries for the timer so i can start getting it watered regularly again. and then we need to keep working on it and plant some more. and get paint for the rocks which are all washed out. i will find a better paint this time...something that won't wash off.

also this weekend we worked on the living room...i did a LOT on that, although you wouldn't know it from first glance. but i gathered up a ton of clutter to give to goodwill and even got it all in the back of the van! we also rearranged the entertainment center, which we've needed to do for awhile because tyren likes to play with the stereo...so we got it put up high where he can't reach it. still trying to figure out what to do with the empty space down low now. i'm going to pull out more of the stuff from the higher shelves that still look cluttered and get all the videos and dvds into the hutch where they can be shut away, out of sight. i want to do something with all our pictures too...we've had the same pics in photo frames and on the walls since we moved here practically...time for a change.

i also did some working on bins for babyfest. bought plastic bins and sorted a lot of that...need to finish and get them OUT to the shed to get them out of the way. and i need to get rid of this huge stroller that we don't ever use...its just taking up space and we have a little one that we can use or the push car, so we don't need this huge one anymore. i will get rid of it and the matching pack and play...i've tried selling them but so far i'm getting no offers...i'll try again. and if that doesn't work, i'm taking them to goodwill too or freecycling them.

i am all about getting this house in order right now! i have all kinds of plastic bins now that i can use to sort things, as i move stuff around and purge...so i can start getting things in shape and work on getting our house to be a nice place to live in.

oh and i almost forgot...i busted my butt moving couches on saturday and cleaned up all the garbage underneath (which wasn't THAT much, because adam and i did the same thing just a couple months ago, but it definitely needed it and i was looking for missing things) and vacuuming them under the cushions and stuff. what a good feeling! next i'm going under the cedar chest and the hutch. i'm still missing some cds and a remote. they have to be SOMEWHERE! then i'm going to sort out that big shelf on the other side of the room...this room is going to be ORGANIZED very soon! not putting a time limit on it so i don't feel like a failure...just want to feel progress on it all every day. baby steps.

so i've accomplished quite a lot lately. *patting self on back* still living in chaos but if i can get this living room in proper order we'll have at least ONE place to be that doesn't feel chaotic! :) then i can start working on the rest.

baby's up now, time to run!

Sunday, May 06, 2007

What IS a "Free Spirit"?

All this internet searching has me thinking about free spirits...so I googled it. Here's an interesting definition of a free spirit in wikipedia:

"It refers to a human being who feels unconstrained by convention; rather, the spirit of liberty is paramount to that person."

and better still:

"Free spirits are inclined to explore life and taste new experiences that hold true to the deepest parts of themselves vs. being influenced by what the masses around them are doing. They are often people who think freely and have the courage to hear their own voice and follow their own integrity."

I've always sorta thought of myself as a free spirit...but never was really sure if I qualified. Hmmmmmm....maybe I do! By that definition, I'm pretty dang close. If not right on. Well depending on the day.

But I've always thought of really fun, expressive people like SARK as free-spirited...and me more as a wanna-be. People who just don't care what the world thinks of them and instead live their lives as they feel, without worrying about what others think. People who live life to its fullest...really experiencing all the joy that life has to offer...revelling in it and tasting it daily. People it is a joy to be around, that make you feel good to be around them and to be part of their lives. That has always been MY definition of free-spirited and I know I don't qualify by that definition...but I would like to someday attain that life. I want people to remember me when I'm gone...I want to have made an impact on the world. And I want to have been unique, and have given people things to think about. Maybe by the time I'm an old lady I'll be that person. I really look forward to being an old lady. I want to be a really cool, unique old lady. Like the aunts in that witch movie with Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman...what the heck was that named? Lemme google it...oh yes, Practical Magic.

More Joyful Parenting

oh my, there are so many wonderful things to be read on the net! i did a search for "joyful parenting" and found another wonderful site and article.

i really like this:

"The greatest gift you can give your children is your full attention and awareness. This means to fully be there with your children in the present moment with all of your senses. Look deeply into your child's eyes; fully experience her voice and what it sounds like. Feel what she is conveying to you through her words, facial expressions and gestures. Breathe in your child's unique smell. Touch her and really feel what her skin feels like."

i have really found this to be true...i figured out awhile ago that i can get so caught up in life that i forget to really pay attention to my children...i could go days without actually looking in their eyes! so i would stop and really look at them...look in their eyes...MAN what a difference! it really helps me refocus!

just looking into your child's eyes really does change your whole perspective. i am so loving this stuff i'm reading! its really helping me think and change my thinking. i am so looking forward to tomorrow with my family! :)

Friendly Parenting

wow, this site really is making me have some light bulb moments...here's another quote i just love...something to think about...that i got here:

"If you are fun to be around, if you aren’t critical, controlling and negative, if you truly enjoy your children and life, your children are going to be easy to deal with. They are going to want to hang out with you. They are going to seek you out when they want advice and comfort. They are going to respect and follow your suggestions and your requests most of the time. They will want to become like you."

wow. i really believe that! i really think that's dead on! i DO want my children to want to be like me! and i want to be worthy of that!

now i don't know anything about my sister-in-law's private dealings with her children...all i know is what i see...but it seems to me that my sister-in-law has this sort of relationship with her children. she seems to really be good friends with them. i have always admired this about her...and her children are all very well-behaved and kind and such...i have often marveled at how she can be so casual and fun and teasing and almost like a sibling to them but at the same time its obvious that it hasn't had a negative affect...they are not running all over her, taking advantage of the relationship like some people would have to you believe of a family that is friends with their children.

so i really like that quote because it really makes sense. i am going to dig deeper into this joyful parenting website...i think it could really help me with my quest to be more joyful! i'm having lightbulb and "wow" moments over here! :)

(incidentally, i do know of another joyful parenting site called "enjoy parenting"...and that's a good one too, but its often just too deep for me. i love scott, i really do...but often i need something lighter that i can easily wrap my brain around...especially in the middle of the nite, like right now, lol!)

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Joyful Parenting

i just spent a long time writing in my journal (my non-online one) about how i want to parent and how i need to change the way i parent to fit what i really truly want my children to learn...it revolved around wanting to be joyful. so i just went online to see what i can find online about "joyful parenting" and immediately i found www.joyfulparenting.com and i found this really terrific quote:

"Children either change behaviors because they fear consequences (which often turn into unresolved resentment) or they do it because it is a part of who they are and who they learn to become through observing the actions of their thoughtful, compassionate and wise parents."

that is SO what i want for my children. i don't want their lives steeped in stress. i don't want them to learn to ignore all else but the overwhelming emotions inside them...no...i want them to know true joy, and to be able to deal with the negative, when it arises, in a healthy way, and to steep themselves and their lives instead with joy. i want them to have wonderful childhood memories of great joy. lots and lots of fun and happiness! and in order for that to happen i have to MAKE it happen.

i'm very hard on myself though...because just as i'm writing this and thinking about all the things i'm teaching them with my messy house and financial strain and constant stress...i just had a lightbulb moment that maybe i'm not doing all THAT bad because amidst all this...because today (and this is not at all unusual in our home *pat self on back*) we cranked up the theme song from the curious george movie and danced around the living room like the sillies we are. even adam, who wouldn't be caught dead dancing in public...seems to really enjoy dancing like a lunatic for his children. a truly joyful moment with lots of giggles from the children...that's what it's all about, truly. joy. real joy. fun moments and love and joy.

maybe i'm not doing so bad after all. :)

Friday, May 04, 2007

another HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL BABYFEST! now, back to life

oh i can't tell you how happy i am to be past another babyfest. don't get me wrong, i LOVE babyfest! otherwise i wouldn't be doing it. its my baby! i helped create it! but it is a LOT of work and a LOT of stress...and its always nice to get past it and revel in the success of it and take a break til next year's planning gets underway.

we had about 1000 attendees this year! woohoo! that's double what we've ever had in the past...and that's WITH a rain date reschedule! the first date was rained out bigtime and we had to combine with the discovery center for the week following (they had an already existing event we piggybacked on.) who knew it would turn out so great? it really was awesome! we didn't expect many of our vendors to reschedule, but we had over 50! (out of the original 75 or so?) pretty dang awesome!

we're all very proud of how it turned out!

so now we can get back to our regularly scheduled lives...and i'm enjoying going full speed with maeven's homeschooling. 2 days ago we instituted "school time" officially (we were more unschooling before, but i don't think i'm so good right now with unschooling, because its too easy for me, with my personality, to just do nothing...which is NOT what unschooling is about...so i wanted to structure it more) so we have "school time" after breakfast and so far its going really really well and maeven is just soaking it all up and just begging for more school time! i try to do at least one reading lesson from this book:



and yesterday she asked to do another, which we did (so 2 lessons in one day) and later she asked to do another, but we didn't have time at that moment, other things to do)...she's getting some writing time too...we're working on her first book report (which at her age is just a picture about a book she read to me and then i am going to have her tell me a couple sentences about it...so far she's stuck on the picture not turning out the way she wants...being the artist she is...that is holding her up so i'm trying to figure out how to help her along to move on to the next part...)

and lots of math time with the workbooks i have purchased for her to use until i get a curriculum worked out. she's LOVING it! i never thought i'd actually BUY workbooks...i've always been so against them...but she loves them! and i keep thinking that as long as that's not ALL i use for her (we have hands on materials and i am sorting out how to best use them...she's not real fond of the bear counters yet...trying to find fun ways to do things still) and keep an eye on her interest level...so far she's all about going through page after page and just really figuring things out...she's so cute to watch...the way she knuckles down and gets to work.

and she's so smart! she figures things out pretty dang fast! especially math-wise. i bought her a 1st and 2nd grade math workbook because i knew she could do the beginning pages...and i was happy to see more complicated stuff as the book went on and i think her and i are going to really enjoy learning more with this book! and i've got a book that has math games, so i'll be drawing from that as well...to add to her math lessons...for now i'm just trying to do SOMETHING, vs the nothing that happened the last few weeks during babyfest chaos. and i'm determined now that i am going to institute a regular routine of SOME kind to the point that when i get to babyfest time again for next year that we will have something in place and we won't be doing that again...OR...spring is just going to be a big break for us every year. LOL! actually when i was learning about enki i did read in there that we should pick a break time every year that had the best outdoor weather...so spring would be it for here in the central valley. we'll see what happens when we get to that next year. because i didn't plan to take a break at all actually...homeschooling the way i am doing it it is fun and we are learning all the time and don't need a "break" per se. anyway i'll take it day to day and see what happens...i'm still learning as i go...heck i will always be!

we also are a part of these great clubs from highlights magazine: top secret adventures, mathmania, and which way usa. so she's getting problem solving and geography and math and practice reading and writing from those as well. pretty cool!

anyway things are just going so well right now, i'm very excited! i have a lot of work still to do to get to where i want us to be...but i'm just so proud that we are getting a mini-routine worked out and that her and i are both really loving "doing school" officially now! of course we still have her science class, her art class, her yoga and gymnastics...plus her bompa time (bompa teaches her about woodworking and yesterday she learned how to change the tire on a bike), and nana time (nana teachers her crafty things)...and we still read a lot...working our way through the little house on the prairie series, which she and i just LOVE! and she has computer games she plays as well...her latest passion is "sea world tycoon" which i think has some more problem solving skills for her to learn with it. its a fun game too! and i'm going to get her back to some of the academic games as well...she has some great ones for phonics and such.

so we're going really well right now and its nice to finally feel good about it all! now i gotta get off the computer so that we can get back to our day! :)