Monday, February 29, 2016

Bandelier otra vez

Sometimes you wake up and don't feel like staying home at all doing the usual stuff.  So we left!  I'll call it our leap year celebration.  We went to Bandelier!

Charles was pretty brave (but mostly scared) about going up and down the ladders into these ancient dwellings.  Once inside the caves he enjoyed it.  (Until we have to climb backward over the edge back down the ladders!)  We thought these dwellings were so wonderful, cool and comfortable.  It's funny how much space we think we need now.  I only wish (we all wish) they'd let us camp in the dwellings at least overnight to really get a feel for it.  That would be so fun.
Look at the little shelves or beds for Charlie!

Walking along the pretty paths we saw 6 deer.  I some of them in the picture below.

The three big boys went to the very top up all the ladders.  Pretty scary.
While the littles played in the stream. 
This way.  And that.
There's not much water around where we live, so even though it put us an hour behind and into some serious Santa Fe traffic, I let them play in the stream as long as they wanted to.  It's good for them.

As we were leaving, Sam was getting really grumpy, and I told him of some consequences he would have to pay for being so unpleasant.  He immediately threw himself face down in the dirt in protest.  We all stared because nobody but me knew why he was having a fit, but I told everyone nonchalantly that Sam just had a really good time and was saying good-bye to Bandelier.  Then we walked on and left him.  Luckily he switched out of his mood after a while and was really pleasant and joked with me a lot on the way home.  I really love Sam, mood swings and all.

We stopped at a Trader Joe's in Santa Fe and everyone at the store was amazed at how many kids I had and I heard the usual, "Are they all yours!?", etc.  But the cutest thing was Charles.  I got him a pack of salami and cheese and so he danced through the store singing, "Salami and Cheese!"  I saw these ladies dancing and chanting with him.  He just made everyone crack up.  He is one hilarious guy.

When we got home, Pat had made a wonderful dinner for the second night in a row and I thanked him sincerely for the second night in a row and said, "You're a way better mother than me."  He said, "Yeah, I thought I should show the kids what it would be like if they had a good mother."  He was totally joking and we all laughed heartily while I pretended to be shocked.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Charlie is three!

This last week or two saw some warm weather finally.  It has snowed here in mid-May though, so we know we're far from done! Dallas has been fixing up everyone's bikes and painted the brown one a pretty turquoise color for me.  Then we all went on a bike ride that lasted until we got around the corner where he hit a rock and when down hard and got scraped up pretty bad.  Well, we tried.  Sometimes I don't know how nursing is going to work out for me.  My legs get so tingly when I look at wounds.  I get serious heebie-jeebies. *smile*  I just keep taking classes and know that whatever is supposed to happen, will, eventually. It will all work out.

I went on an early morning walk with Sam too recently in the hills around our house and I enjoyed being with him so much and he has been really extra loving towards me, with ready smiles and a better attitude.

Today in history, we learned about a couple kings of the Franks, Charles the Hammer, and Charlemagne (or Charles the Great).  Pretty cool day to be a Charles!

Charles is notorious around here for singing at the top of his lungs.  His favorite songs are "Little Einsteins", "Old MacDonald had a Farm", and "Monkeys Jumping on the Bed".  This video is so cute and really shows his corny personality.  It's me trying to teach him that he is going to be three!

When Pat brought the cake in Charlie blew the candles out immediately before we'd gotten halfway through the song!  So he got to do it twice.

We are so happy he is three!!!!  From all of us, he got a basketball and hoop, Blades, Hungry Hungry Hippos game, some stickers and light stick.

Now to Evan: Evan participated in the pinewood derby.  His is the R2D2 car.  He did it all himself, but had help cutting the wood from our neighbor Warren, and help putting on the wheels from his dad.  Unfortunately, R2 wasn't really into being fast.  But we had fun. 

We had the flu for a couple weeks and I resolved yet again to never spend another February at home.  Currently looking for a beach house in South America that we can repair to every January through March. (I wish!) We were all dying of the flu and Pat wanted to do something to make us feel happy, so on Valentine's Day we woke up to this!  Reading lights for the boys to put by their beds, crayons and coloring books for Leia and Charles, and new pajamas for me!  It was just what we needed! 

We also watched a TON of Netflicks movies.  We've realized almost everything on Netflicks is awful, but we did find one movie that Dallas and I laughed ourselves to death with: Mr. Bean's Holiday.  Good times!

While Leia was at dance class this week, Dal arranged to have Brother Ohran meet him at the library to finish earning the chess merit badge.  I am really thankful for such helpful men in the church and in scouting who help the boys achieve great things and I'm thankful for how motivated Dallas is and how he takes care of all his own stuff, his own meetings, his own goals, etc.

I went down to the school yesterday to enroll the kids (well to put their names in the drawings that will happen over the next few months).  Everybody was so happy to see me!  I ran into Mr. Nuckols our former bishop/history teacher, and Ms. Hutchinson (S & D's teacher).  Krista, Dawn, and Tootsie of the office staff were thrilled to have us come back and talked about what good kids I have.  It was really nice to have so many people have such a high opinion of us and our kids.  My kids have their own share of trials, but I am blessed that at school they are super bright, never cause trouble, and are kind and helpful to everyone, though on the quiet side.  I used to always pack them extra food in their lunch boxes last year and tell them to look for someone who forgot their lunch or didn't have much, because I'm trying to teach them to look outwards at the needs of others.

Anyway, at my kid's school, I know they've gotten rid of P.E. for the younger kids, and they might get rid of art, and these things make me question returning.  There's a lot of frustration working out kinks and funding issues that a new school has, including the fact that they were supposed to have their own building years ago.  Most disheartening is that the new principal is lacking.  He just doesn't have the charisma and love for the kids, teachers, and parents like the first principal did and it affects the whole mood of the school.  He talks down to everyone, (without meaning to), and is very pro-testing so that affects the teaching (common core).

There are some charter schools in Albuquerque and other places that have a 'part school-part homeschool' option, which is what I'd really enjoy best.  We miss the friendships from school and the good education, but a lot is accomplished at home too.  Also, I've been so grateful that this year I am not driving 1-2 hours a day in all kinds of weather, or being hit up for money all the time, or feeling constantly on the run and stressed out about having to be somewhere.  I cannot tell you how much happier that makes us and how much I dread driving again, and raising kids in their car seats (again). 

I talked to my kids about it honestly since I always want to hear their thoughts, and they are really split too.  I think we all lean about 60-70% towards home school.  Their thoughts were that in school they only read 8 books the whole year and at home we go to the library and read a book every week.  (This is just assigned books.  They read a lot more for fun.)  They just love having the TIME to read.  They also said that music would suffer because of the lack of time.  I wholeheartedly agree because right now they pass off songs really fast; at least three a week.  But when we were in school we quit most all extra-curricular things and their music progression stood still.  It's hard out here where you have to drive lengthy distances to do any activity.  When they're in school, we have time for almost nothing, and so, to not overly tax the family, we quit everything except scouts.  Even scouts isn't immune though.  Dallas has really enjoyed having adequate time to work on scouts and other projects around the house and is really progressing!

I love the discussions the kids and I have about the books they read weekly, and about science, and I love that Charles has their friendship rather than him being the only one home.  Math is suffering though, and a few other subjects aren't being done to my satisfaction which would require an adjustment if I continue to home school.  Regarding Leia, I love that she is in a dance class (that we would not be able to do if they were in school), but she misses out on things like show-and-tell and other school fun, so it's always a trade-off.  But at least she's got a great group of girls at dance class with really wonderful moms and families.  A friend told me recently that she knows a wonderful family that just went back and forth from school to home school each year and her kids turned out fine; really well in fact.  She doesn't see anything wrong with what we are doing (not that it's ever been my plan to go back and forth, we just do what feels right each year).  But it does make getting scholarships difficult, if that's a priority, and some people think I'm a weirdo, I'm sure.

I don't aim to please everyone or explain myself to everyone's satisfaction. We are these kids parents for a reason, and we do the best we can with hearts full of love for them, and we have faith that God will make up the difference.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Now We Are Six by A.A. Milne

We've been learning a lot of poems for homeschool and this one fit perfect for Daisy's sixth birthday!  Charles cracks us up at the end copying her.  She's pretty proud that she learned this.

When I was one
I had just begun.
When I was two,
I was nearly new.
When I was three,
I was hardly me.
When I was four,
I was not much more.
When I was five,
I was just alive.
But now I am six,
I'm as clever as clever.
So I think I'll be six
now and forever.

I was really excited for her birthday this year.  I don't like her growing older, but I love her girl presents.  We've been reading the Little House books and she wanted a nightgown like Laura's so that's what she's wearing thanks to Grandma Brenda, and she also got a Abigail Adams dress with a matching one for her new doll named Anne.  She also got some paper dolls and a sewing project.  The dresses we bought her and her doll come from a company called Little Adventures (there's a link on the right side).

She saw this cake at a grocery store and loved it.  It's for Valentines Day probably, but it was only $20 and saved me from having to make one, especially since I've been eating really clean lately.  

 Birthday hair on Sunday
Heading out to church on birthday Sunday!  Some people were thinking about the Super Bowl today, but not us. We were just excited about the birthday.  Leia got so excited she woke up and got dressed at 3am!  When she came to wake us up, we sent her back to bed, poor girl.
 Beginners sewing kit and historic paper dolls.
 Opening her doll.  She is just like Laura Ingalls' doll Charlotte.
 Matching dresses!

Her doll has her name printed on her apron.  I think she's adorable and so much more fun than those plasticy-haired ones.  It was a great birthday.  Can you tell I'm living vicariously?
 My birthday was a couple weeks ago and I went out with friends and had a lot of fun the night before.  Then the day of my birthday, I woke up with either the flu or food poisoning and spent the whole day in bed when I wasn't in the bathroom. 

So Pat and I finally went out yesterday to my favorite restaurant.  It happens to be Vietnamese food and it happened to be the Vietnamese new year so they had this whole roast pig on the table and gave us lots of free food and some lottery tickets.  The next time you see me, I could be rich.

 Mostly what we did in town though was purchase new bunk beds for the boys and Charles and Leia are sleeping together in our old bed.  We hope this will help them to not come into our room at night.
 Sam has really had some issues lately.  There's no end in sight, but we love him and we are doing our best.  We are thankful to his primary teacher who, though she probably wants to knock his teeth out, instead had him over for the day and helped him to make a pillowcase for himself and each one of his siblings.  He was really proud to have this gift to give everyone.
 Dentist appointments up the wazoo lately.  This girl has a bad tooth that is stuck in her jaw and only barely broke through.  It is nearly impossible to brush, but is a food trap.  Every night we have to lay her upside down and try to clean it out.  Dentist said when she gets braces (because she has a cross-bite) an oral surgeon will need to take out that tooth first.  If it lasts that long.  If we can't keep it clean, and it gets a cavity she'll have to have surgery to remove it sooner.
 We continue going to museums on our free library pass almost weekly.  The program ends in March, and we've definitely taken advantage of it.  There are some blessings to homeschooling.  Lots!
 So cold lately, as evidenced by this gigantic icicle.
 I love playing with Leia's dolls and changing their outfits.

 You'd never know this handsome guy scowls at most everybody.
 This lovely girl gets herself dressed and does her hair first thing every morning.
By the way, Pat and I also had our 15th wedding anniversary in January.  We used that free library pass to go to four museums in Santa Fe, had a nice lunch and dinner, and just a really great time.  Here's Pat by a Russian quilt since his brother's on a mission in Russia.
Flamenco dancing at one of the museums. 

I was able to take Dallas to Standard's Night a couple Sundays ago, a yearly event for the youth of the Stake to get them going with the new theme of the year and such.  It was a musical night, and Dallas participated and it was so inspiring.  There were so many instruments and it was so powerful with the singing, and coordination, and practiced preparation.  In the end I was in tears and found my old presidency and we just cried and hugged.  I love those ladies so much.  I felt bad to not have been helping them this time since I was released, but they testified of the many miracles that have been getting them through things that would be impossible without God.  After it was over, Dallas just thanked me sincerely for "letting" him participate.  He is gold.  He is so cheerful and helpful that I sometimes wonder...