Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Changing Tides

It really is amazing how fast life goes. Children are being born and growing up in what seems like the blink of an eye. I know how cliche that sounds, but it is so true! The thing with large families is that you are in many different stages all the time.  My oldest child is starting his junior year of high school in the fall and will be doing his classes at the college (via the running start program). The goal is to have him graduate high school with his associates degree. He's also driving his own car everywhere and helping give siblings rides to school, do errands, and store trips for us. It's so nice having an extra driver in the house!




Then I also have two kids in the middle school age...puberty and hormones oh my! They love being silly and crazy. Owen is planning for a school trip to Washington DC next year. He's very excited. Brayden is enjoying homeschool so far and doing well at soccer. I've already caught him up to grade level for his math (beginning 7th grade though) so we'll spend the summer doing 7th grade math. He can start in the fall (still homeschooling) with the "8th grade"  math.  He seems to be excelling at homeschooling and the one-on-one attention.

 

Next I have two elementary-aged kids are are learning how to ride bikes, read, and still love going to school.  They are at the sweet, fun age. Life is pretty simple for them - wake up, go to school, come home, play with siblings, then go to bed and repeat. Gabe is thriving in kindergarten and already passed his kindergarten word list! Billy Jr is well-liked by his classmates and has lots of friends. They both just love life right now!

Then last are the two girls...toddler/preschool stage of life. They are playing with dollies, dollhouses, coloring, and just enjoying time at home with mom. I'm trying to potty train Abby (without much success) and she'll be starting preschool in another year. I'm going to do preschool at home with her next year because I couldn't get her into the 3 year old preschool class. Eden is into everything and will be walking soon. Those two keep me on my toes! 


The one stage I'm NOT in is the infant stage. Eden is perhaps too young still for me to miss it much, but I'm sure a day will come that I miss it. Right now, however, the inconsistent schedules, lack of sleep, baby not sleeping through the night, and crying for no reason (both me and the baby) is too fresh in my mind still though. I'm happy to not be in that stage! Eden is our last baby, permanently.  I haven't felt sadness about that at all. I really do feel like I'm ready to not be in THAT stage anymore. I still have a lot more stages and milestones to go through the next 18 years to keep me plenty busy!


Friday, April 17, 2015

One-on-One Time In a Big Family

Many people wonder/ask how each child gets special time with mom and dad in a large family.  For us, we rotate which child gets to run errands with us (store trips, shopping, etc).  Also, we make special trips for the kids to have mom and dad time alone.

One of these trips we just made last week...

Owen's favorite celebrity is Ariana Grande. He LOVES her. Once he told me that he was sad because he thinks that she has no clue that he even exists. Well we surprised him by buying him tickets to her concert when we found out that she was coming to our state!

We decided it would be even more fun to make a fun day out of it in Seattle while waiting for the concert. We packed in as many things as we could into one day...

First was the Pacific Science Museum... He loved all the hands on things to do there.


At the Pacific Science Center we saw the Pompeii exhibit. It was both fascinating and sad. 



Before we left the Pacific Science Center, we watch Furious 7 on the Imax screen! Owen was amazed...

Next we went up the Space Needle!! Gulp. I had to swallow my fear of heights for that one... the elevator ride was the worst. I didn't know if I was going to cry or pass out as we neared the top. This picture was taken on the way down, however. Otherwise I would have NEVER stood by those glass windows in the elevator. 


Owen got to have an Italian soda at the top of the Space Needle while we enjoyed the view. 


Then, before the concert, we ate at the most amazing Chinese restaurant. SOOOO good.

Finally, it was time for the concert! Owen was star-struck. His eyes didn't move much off the stage. He also HAD to have the glowing cat ears that everyone else in the crowd had. It required we wait in line for half an hour, but it was worth it. They were programmed to her music. It was super cool to see all the lights in the arena "dance" to her songs...



 So all in all, it was a great trip! Owen had the time of his life I think. It was great to have this one-on-one time with us.


Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Boys vs Girls

When I first had Abby, everyone asked how I liked having a girl and if it was much different then the boys. At that point, she was a tiny new little bundle of pink and behaved the same as any other newborn baby. She slept, she cried, she ate, and pooped - then repeat. I always answered that the biggest difference was all the cute little pink clothes and dresses.

 Now Abby is 3 years old. I'm starting to see a difference! However, how much of that is nature vs nurture? Learning in my sociology classes, gender is a social construct. That means that society determines what a boy is and what a girl is - not nature. Society decides that boys play with cars, dirt, and guns and that girls play with dolls and pretty "clean" things. I definitely see how society markets boy things versus girl things (I mean PINK legos for girls? Come on - can't they play with regular legos too?!).

However, I also think that some things are just inborn. Nature made boys/men to be the protectors and fighters (i.e. their obsession with guns and playing gun games no matter how much the parent tries to fight it). Nature also made girls to be nurturing mothers (i.e. girls' desire to play with dolls so much). That said, I do find a lot of the "girly" stuff being partly our fault. For example I call my daughter a princess, I get her excited about princess movies, and I buy her princess toys. The other day she was watching a TV show and a commercial came on for a girls toy and the girl had a bright pink bedroom. Now Abby can't get that out of her mind and demands daily that we paint her room pink.
 So... Abby is girl. But she also loves playing in the dirt and wrestling with the boys. One Sunday I turned my back for a moment and I found her belly down in a dirt pile with her pretty Sunday best dress on! (Remember this picture?)

The jury is still out on Eden. I have a feeling that she'll just follow in her big sister's foot steps. However you never know! She may want to be her own little person. I am totally okay with the kids being who they want to be. If I have a boy who wants to learn to sew, cook, and play with dolls - then I help them and encourage them to explore those interests. If Abby wants to play soldiers with the boys and wants her own Nerf gun, then I'll be happy to buy her one. I don't buy into the tough boys and dainty girls mentality. I think both boys and girls could benefit from having a tender and nurturing side as well as a courageous and strong side.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Homeschooling - Month 1!

Well today marks the one  month anniversary of when we began homeschooling our second oldest son.

I think things are still going pretty good. I'm happy with it and I think he is too. He does miss his old friends, however we're working on ways to get out and meet some people. :) He has soccer starting soon. He also has scouts (which we're going to try to be more active in!). I am also looking into some local home school groups.

Academically, I love the feeling of teaching him something. I love our intellectual conversations and hearing how his mind works. I don't think he got that at school before. Now he has time to really explore what he's learning and talk about it. I know that for me, personally, I learn best when I can discuss a subject with someone else and really think about it.

Some changes - I feel that we've done enough review on math now. We're going to start a new math curriculum. Since math is his strong suit and he enjoys it, I'm going to get him a more challenging math program. From what I've read and heard, the math program Life of Fred is a good one! By the time he goes through all of the books, he'll be ready to transfer to a junior level college math class. That's more then the average high school student can do!
Also, I want to accelerate through the material a little bit more since we only have 1.5 years before high school. AAAAAAACK! I want to make sure we don't spend a ton of time on middle school work, when we should be transitioning into junior high work by the end of this year. I don't want to place any limits on what he's learning, but I also don't want to leave anything out. :) I have SO  much I want to teach him!
So we're moving on to early American history now and leaving behind ancient history. He's already covered Egypt, Mesopotamia, etc several times over in school. He's teaching ME things I didn't know!

He says he wants to be a doctor when he grows up - a surgeon to be specific. I'm not going to limit him on anything. I love that he has goals and dreams! That  means, however, that we need to step up our work here! lol

Besides homeschooling - no other real updates here. Winter time is always our down season with not a lot going on. I'm also fully immersed in my own school currently too.  I only have one more year left!
I'll post more on updates soon! :)

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Exploring Egypt...

Today my 12 yr old son and I toured around Egypt. We saw the vendors on the street and the funny way the buildings and houses were packed in like sardines. We also got to visit a few pyramids while we were there. One of the pyramids even offered a tour down INSIDE of it! We got to see the old king's tomb that grave robbers had already gotten to, and unique passageways carved out thousands of years ago.  Then after exploring Egypt we visited a cave in France in which ancient paintings of animals and people were on the walls within the cave.  After we were done, we were still home in time to pick the other boys up from school and make dinner.

Isn't technology great! Google maps is such a fun tool for exploring the world. It felt like the next best thing to being in Egypt ourselves (minus the hot sun, sounds, and smells of it...). The tour of the French cave was a virtual tour provided by an educational website. I think it's amazing how technology is changing how we learn and what we can learn.

Today was day two of homeschooling Brayden. After a lot of careful research, reading, and thinking - we decided to go with the Easy Peasy curriculum. It is an all-in-one curriculum that provides adequate education in all of the areas we wanted to cover. It covers math, reading, writing, language arts, history, science, art, music, PE/Health, computer/technology, among a few other areas.   This curriculum is fully online with some worksheets/printables that are to be printed out from home.  It also comes with a wonderful support system/network.
The very best part? Its ALL FREE!
 The curriculum is given in bite sized amounts, which is perfect for a child with low attention span. This also allows more time to explore areas of interest or dive into subjects further (like we spent an hour in history just touring around Egypt and exploring pyramids).

I can't wait to see what the rest of this school year brings! Tomorrow we are making papyrus among other fun activities. :)


http://allinonehomeschool.com/


Saturday, January 3, 2015

Saying Goodbye



As we ushered in a new year and said goodbye to 2014, I thought about the last year and everything it brought us.
It brought us happiness in the form of a new healthy baby girl.
It brought us a lot of fun and family memories.
It brought us big decisions about homeschooling.
It also brought sadness. The sadness came at the very end, however.

Life is so unpredictable. When you make careful plans, typically what you were planning for doesn't or won't happen. Yet, when you are least expecting it (and thus are typically unprepared), life has a way of sneaking up on you...like a giant jack-in-the-box just waiting to spring out.

Change can be good, but with it also comes a period of adjustment and sadness from saying goodbye to the way things were. In our case, it also involves saying goodbye to a person who became like a grandfather to my children and like a father-figure to my husband.

For the past 14 years my husband has been a caregiver for one person. I often joked that he spent more time at work then at home! Work and home time was muddled, as he often thought about the person he cared for even when he was at home. It was more then a job, it was like caring for a family member.

We knew, of course, that the day would come in which that person passed on. It happens to all of us eventually... We carefully planned what-if scenarios and budgets so that we'd be ready, because it can be scary thinking of supporting a large family while starting over again with your job or career.  Yet, no one can really plan for death, Can they?

Sadly, over Christmas the man my husband cared for became sick rather unexpectedly and passed away.

My 12 year old son, Brayden, was quite attached to this man. Brayden was his favorite of all our kids (but shhhh don't tell the others...).  We think it's because Brayden has ADHD and is often in trouble at school and at home, and the man my husband cared for felt the strong need to reach out to him and make him feel special.   Brayden took his passing very hard. He was sad and depressed for several days. He still has his moments of sadness.  Watching your child grieve is hard for a parent to do, although I know its another one of those necessary lessons of life.

So that brings us to 2015...big changes. The reality of it all is that we have to figure out a new path in life now, a new career, and income to support our large family. I have no idea what to expect in 2015, but I hope it brings us some good changes and lots of happiness!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

One More Catch-Up Post...

I can't believe that the last time I posted a blog update was July (before my recent one a couple weeks ago)! I missed so many fun things that happened this summer and fall.

So one last catch-up post in pictures:

First of all - our big family trip this summer was to Silverwood (a semi-local version of a smaller scale Disneyland). We spent the whole day there, only going home at closing time. It was exhausting but the kids had a blast.



The older boys kept trying to win toys at the game booths with no luck. Gabe (age 5) kept begging to go to a certain game and win this giant stuffed lemur. We told him that it's very hard to win toys, so not to be disappointed. However, his first attempt up there he won a small toy AND a large toy (he got three balls for one attempt). He was VERY happy and proud of himself. He named his giant lemur Mr. Cuddles.




Billy Jr and Gabe LOVED the little kids' rides. There were a lot more of them this year (little kids' rides)!



Abby got tired of walking (even though we had a stroller with us) so her big brother offered to carry her for a (short)while!



To beat the boredom, one summer day I took the kids to a local "island" walking trail.



Look at Billy Jr's socks!! That was after they played in the water some.



When we stopped to read some signs along the nature trail (talking about the type of native plants there) -  Brayden saw something brightly colored in the weeds. It was a geocache!!



Gabe got a pair of sunglasses from the geocache.



First day of school!!!!!! Everyone was pretty tired in this picture from trying to adjust to the new early morning schedule. We have a 10th grader, 7th grader, 5th grader, 2nd grader, and kindergartner!



Gabe's in kindergarten now!



Billy (dad) made us an awesome homework station!  This was just after it was completed, but now it has books on the shelves below and some lamps. :)


That brings us to....Halloween! 

Carving pumpkins:


Billy jr didn't want to touch the pumpkin guts so he tried wearing plastic bags on his hands:


Abby even helped!


Four of the finished pumpkins....




The kids' costumes: Owen was a scary clown, Gabe a ghost pirate, Brayden a werewolf, Billy Jr a ninja, Abby a princess/Elsa, and Eden was a pink poodle. Also two extra friends pictured here... :)


Crazy Owen!


The candy haul! The boys were trying to play a game where they traded/bet candy. Surprisingly it didn't end up in a fight. ;)


Then mommy and the girls went on a road trip to visit their Auntie and cousins (including a new baby cousin!) This was actually my first time taking a long trip alone with the baby, but also my first time driving over the mountain passes and on a freeway. Yikes! My Garmin GPS did a very good job helping me though. :)


We went with the cousins to an aquarium. :) 


Abby and her cousin hugging...awww. What the picture doesn't show is Abby trying to claim EVERY animal there as HERS. "Mine!" she'd say, and try to edge out her cousin from even getting close to the glass/fence. 


Cute Abby :) 


Pretty fishies!





And a petting zoo too!



 The end for now! We had a lot more adventures that I didn't get pictures of. However, I'm going to try to do much better at that in the new year! :)

Until next time....