Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Morning Laundry

Every morning after Greg leaves I fly around the upstairs like a tornado for an hour, making beds, wiping toothpaste out of the sinks, and throwing in a load of laundry. Laundry, laundry, laundry. I have measured the degree of change the addition of each child has brought to our family by the size of the laundry pile. When Chloe arrived, it was really no big deal. I still had my whites, my darks, my delicates, and my towels - there were just a few extra pink sleepers and tiny dresses thrown in. She was one neat baby. She wasn't a spitter, never had those awful poop explosions that seemed to plague other mothers, and was a dainty little bib-wearing eater. When the twins arrived - forget about it. I am not exaggerating when I say that two extra children quadrupled my laundry pile, and then some. In November of 2006 I disappeared at the bottom of an endless pile of burp cloths and crusty sleepers, and emerged dazed and confused about eighteen months later with an excel spreadsheet and a fierce determination to control the laundry, lest it control me. Predictably, Charlie's additions to the laundry pile have been taken in stride.

Lately, I've realized that I've been muttering a bit as I throw in the jeans or fold the tiny underwear or hang up yesterday's dress that she was supposed to hang up herself. I can feel so unappreciated some times. They just expect that there will be clean socks when they open the drawer - they have no idea how much work goes into it! A few days ago as I was mid-mutter, God gave me a little nudge. When I do the work He's given me to do gladly, for Him rather than for the praise of others, He blesses that. I walked away from the laundry pile and spent some time in prayer and confession. A few hours later I walked past my room, saw it still heaped up on my bed, and remembered that it wasn't going to fold itself.

I noticed with fresh eyes how tiny Charlie's little duck socks are. My goodness, baby feet are cute. It won't be long before my boy will be refusing to wear socks with yellow mallards on them.

I picked up the battered 4T jeans and rubbed the weathered knees to gauge how many more wears we could get before the holes started to appear. I pictured all the hours of sliding and skidding and kneeling down in front of matchbox cars that created those worn knees. And I've been there for all of those hours, drinking in my children at these ages, reveling in their curiosity, listening to all of their little stories as they play.

I hung up the sweet yellow and white dress with the tie in the back that I bought this past spring at a consignment sale for $15, too much for a dress from consignment. I couldn't resist, though, as I pictured my sweet little girl running barefoot in it, her blond curls flying. I have loved every minute of watching her from our deck as she wanders around the back yard, singing, dancing, pretending she is Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Last year I taught my kids a scripture I seem to have forgotten myself. Whatever work I find to do each day should be done as for the Lord, and not for the praise of men. Try it. He'll bless you for it.

"Servants, do what you're told by your earthly masters. And don't just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you'll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you're serving is Christ. The sullen servant who does shoddy work will be held responsible. Being a follower of Jesus doesn't cover up bad work."
                                                                    Colossians 3:22-25 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Field Trip Friday! Soergal's Orchards

In the middle of May, the kids and I spent a Friday morning and early afternoon with some of our closest homeschool friends at Soergal's, learning all about animals, bugs, and flowers. It was a beautiful day to hang out on a farm. We started out learning all about the names of the male, female, and baby animals that live on their farm.

Did you know that a female goat is called a nanny? 

Did you know a male donkey is called a Jack? 

Did you know a baby bunny is called a kitten?

Me neither! Learning new things every day, people!

After learning about the animals, the kids got to go and visit them. Dudley the giant pig even stood up to greet the kids. I wish I could've gotten a picture of that - he is seriously the biggest pig you've ever seen, and I didn't think the poor thing could actually stand on his feeble limbs. It was equally impressive and gross.

After visiting the animals, the kids sat for a lesson on bees, butterflies, ladybugs, and how they interact with flowers. Did you know that only female bees have stingers?

Me neither! Love it.

After their lesson, we walked up to the potting shed and learned about planting things that will actually grow. I tried to pay extra attention to this part in light of my tendency to kill everything I plant. I picked up some tips and am keeping my fingers crossed for cascades of blooming petunias this summer.

After their planting lesson, they each got to plant their own green bean plant to take home. Chloe carried hers around like a baby and can't wait to see how it grows this summer. Max spilled his in the car. Anyhoo.

Once the learning was over, we all gathered under the pavillion for lunch, and then the kids ran delightedly over to the playhouses and raced around with one another. Some days, learning is a total blast. Today was one of those days.

See, We're Normal! (Sort Of)

A week ago I had a Homeschool Girl's Night Out, though technically we're closer to "ladies" than "girls" these days, and we stayed in rather than going out. Just semantics, people.

When I started homeschooling two years ago, I was certain that I was choosing a lonely, isolated life. I knew that homeschooling was what I wanted to do, but I was terrified that I would never find "normal" people for the kids and I to be friends with. The past few weeks as our school year has ended and a delicious quiet has crept back into our days, I've had the chance to reflect on how God has richly blessed us over the past two years. Friendships that we made last year have flourished (miss you, Navarres!), and this year brought a wonderful new group of friends for the kids and I. It is a fantastic community to be a part of, and I can't imagine a better way for us to learn and play and grow together.

Everyone arrived at 7:30 with snacks in tow, and I made them play a dorky icebreaker that was actually kinda fun. We learned all kinds of hilarious things about one another and kept the kids up because we were laughing so hard.

Emily & Jen

Sharon, Cecilia & Rachel

Melissa & Shelle

Elizabeth & Taylor

Liz, aka "Mrs. Smith," the boys' beloved teacher at Classical Conversations this past year and first crush - isn't she lovely? One time she came to class with her fingernails painted and they talked about it for weeks. They even drew pictures of "Mrs. Smith and her pretty fingernails." True story. Perhaps I need to devote a little more time to personal hygiene, as it seemed to them that she was the only one in the world with pretty fingernails. I wasn't jealous or anything :-).

I missed capturing the lovely faces of a few other girls, but I'll get them next time since we all decided this is something that needs to be a regular event. After our game we just hung around, ate, and chatted. Plans and playdates were made, curriculum ideas were traded, encouragement was offered, and laughter abounded. The last guests didn't leave until midnight, and as they did we congratulated each other on the fact that it was after 10 pm and we were still awake. It was a great night with a great group of girls ladies. I am blessed to call each one of them friend.

"Become wise by walking with the wise;
   hang out with fools and watch your life fall to pieces
Proverbs 13:20 (The Message)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Charlie's First Birthday Party

On Saturday June 2nd, we celebrated our sweet Charlie's first birthday.

We had a carnival theme!

Grammy came from Cincinnati to celebrate with us.

She clearly had a great time :-).

Uncle Steve, Aunt Carla, Hailey, Hannah & Tyler came from Ithaca for our special boy's day!


Uncle Paul, Aunt Cici, Drew, James, Pop, asnd Baby Ethan were there too! Nana was in GA tending to Charlie's brand new cousin Luke, but she was with us in spirit!

Aunt Carla did such an amazing job icing the cupcakes that I made her pose with them...

We ate some yummy food, sang to our darling boy, and let him dig in...

He liked his cake!

Charlie's family spoiled him with lots of thoughtful, useful gifts.

This year has flown by, and it was such a joy to celebrate our boy's first year with most of our favorite people!

Happy First Birthday Chilly!! We love you so very much.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

If You're Thinking About Homeschooling...

I am dying to get my recap of Chilly's first birthday up on the blog, but my pictures are all being held captive by Greg's iphone. I'm going to try to set them free some time before he turns two tonight. In the mean time, I was checking out my blog friend Edie's latest post and laughed my tail off. She is hilarious to begin with, and this post in particular had me in hysterics. I'm stealing a few of her images, and giving her all the credit :-).
SO.... if you're thinking about homeschooling (and you should be - it's awesome!!), here is a little extra motivation for ya:

And my personal favorite...

C'mon, join me next Fall!! You know you want to.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Happy Birthday Charlie!

One year ago today, this is what I was doing:

Today, my handsome little man turned one.

Happy First Birthday beautiful boy. You are so very loved.

We had several sweet celebrations in honor of Chilly's first birthday. Lots of fun-filled pictures to come!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Bend it Like Beckham

Chloe, Max, and Sam all played soccer for the first time this Spring. Greg coached Max and Sam's team, and Chloe played with her buddy Ryan, whose Dad was her coach.

This was the first team sport any of the kids have participated in, and it sure was interesting!

I'll be frank: Chloe hated it at first. Our friend Jon, who was her coach, asked if Greg and I showed her his picture at home and then pricked her with pins. I think he was joking :-). It turned out that it really bothered her that no one was watching her and encouraging her. Greg was on one of the other fields coaching the boys, and I gleefully saw them all off after the morning huddle and took Charlie home for his nap, so she was on her own. She's gained so much confidence in the past few years that it didn't even occur to me that this might bother her, but after two weeks of mid-game tears we realized it did. We're sharp, huh?

The next Saturday, Charlie and stayed by her field and cheered her on from the sidelines, and she became the Chloe we know and love before our eyes: determined, hardworking, and encouraging to her teammates.

Here she is with Brooke, one of her besties.

The boys were a riot. They've played "soccer camp" with Daddy for the past year, which is basically Greg's little drills for dribbling, kicking, and soccer basics. They had no clue that people from the opposing team might actually run up next to them and try to steal the ball. The first few games were rife with meltdowns, confusion, and boredom. Everyone seemed to score in their own goals. No one could remember which team they were on. Many bouquets of dandelions were picked, and snack time was the highlight of every game.

The other moms and I looked at one another and thought, Ummm, we're giving up our Saturday morning for this?

By the last game, Greg gave an enormous sigh of relief and announced that, lo and behold, the boys had actually improved in both their attitude and their ability. He has been dreaming about playing soccer with his boys since before they were a twinkle in the eye, and if he saw one of them flopped in the grass counting clouds one more time, I think he would have lost it.

Unless she changes her mind, our little ballerina is going to stick to dancing. I think we're going to let Max and Sam just play with Dad in the back yard for another year or so and see where that leads us. All in all, it was a fun season, and I am definitely delighted to have my Saturday mornings back!