Friday, December 30, 2011

Santa on the Fire Truck

My favorite day of the year is Christmas Eve.  I love the anticipation that it holds!  Here at our house we have dinner and then, with whomever drops in that year, we wait impatiently for the first sound of the firetruck slowly going up and down the neighborhood streets with Santa sitting high on top waving to everyone below.  This year we had my mother in law, my younger daughter, Keri, and her roommate and her roommate's little girl, my older daughter, Kris, very sick little granddaughter, Natalie and MomMom in addition to my sons, my husband and I.  Full house!  Around 7pm we heard the first strains of the siren and if we stood at the front door and looked across the neighborhood we could just see Santa about 4 streets over, slowly gliding by on the top of his truck.  Squeals were heard all around (from some much older than 4 and 7 lol).  We passed the time and then heard him again.  Back to the door!  More squeals!  Finely, around 9pm, we heard him loud and clear.  Everyone grabbed coats and shoes and out the door we went!  Most of them piled into the back of our truck, waving and laughing.  And once again, for our eighteenth year, we watched as the fire truck crested the hill and there he was, adorned in his red and white fluffy suit, waving just for us.  The looks in the eyes of my youngest son was priceless and our friend's little girl was beside herself with excitement.  Everyone waves, no matter the age, and as they get to us the firefighters hand out candy canes and smile and chat and then Santa is upon us and he's looking down from way up high, surrounded in bright lights and he seems to be looking right at YOU and waving and saying Ho! Ho! Ho!.  Before you know it the truck is rounding the corner and everyone scurries to the side yard yelling for Santa and waving one last time.  It is absolutely, positively the very best ten minutes of the year :-)   Afterwards, company leaves and my children put on their new Pjs and gather on the sofa for Twas The Night Before Christmas.  My granddaughter was feeling well enough then to join us and I sat with a son on either side and a granddaughter trying to eat the pages while my daughter snapped pictures.  I read from the same book every year and I remember all the years when my two daughters and oldest son were small and then when the youngest came along.  We would all pile onto that sofa, squeezing together, and here that story.  Then it's bedtime for all "children" so the adults can do their thing.  For the past fifteen years my oldest has had a sleepover with her brother.  A few years ago they allowed their little brother to join.  This year, because the baby was sick and because my daughter had a husband to go home to, it was just the two boys and they slept in the oldest's bed, listening to Christmas carols on the radio and talking about whatever brothers talk about.  Whispering so maybe, just maybe, you might hear Santa when he comes to put all your presents under the tree.  Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Year's End

December was a crazy month.  I am like everyone else, trying to squeeze it all in and never quite living up to my own expectations.  Dakota was on overdrive and I had a hard time dealing with that.  He was quite literally vibrating with excitement and just couldn't think of anything else.  Then, before Christmas ever arrived, he would burst into tears because he was going to miss Christmas when it was over!  It was a crazy couple of weeks.  In the middle of it all our baby granddaughter got sick.  Thursday, December 22nd she just wasn't acting right and by the time her mommy came to get her she was feverish and glassy eyed.  They took her to the emergency room that night when they couldn't get her fever down and she was diagnosed with RSV, a virus that attacks the lungs of very small children.  It can be spread to anyone, but those over two or three usually just have a cough and cold.  Natalie got very sick very quickly.  Christmas Eve my daughter brought her here to be with us (we were all already exposed anyway) and to see Santa on the firetruck.  She was such a sad little thing, with a harsh cough, fever and labored breathing.  It was very difficult to watch, but our pediatrician and my daughter's pediatric nurse friend kept telling her to just keep the baby home and ride it out.  By Christmas Natalie was worse and the day after things were getting extremely serious.  Early on the 27th we got her back over to the emergency room.  Watching her try to breath and almost lose conciousness for the effort it took was one of the scariest things I have ever seen.  I was terrified that she would just shut down and stop trying.  She was admitted and the first 36 hours were tough, but she began a slow improvement right away.  By Thursday she had her IV and oxygen removed and by that night she was playing with toys.  Today, although bored and more than ready to get out of that room, she was doing very well.  She needs to tolerate her breathing treatments every four hours instead of every two and we are hoping that she will be home with us tomorrow to welcome in the new year.  My daughter has made me so proud, caring for the baby despite being very sick herself.  She is patient and calm and she handled herself like a pro.  She is a great mommy, just like I knew she would be. 

Here at home we have various coughs and colds going on, but everyone is doing okay.  We are looking forward to hanging out together tomorrow to close out 2011, having a family game night and enjoying each other's company.  The best gift of all, however, will be if we can celebrate with the baby nearby or know that she is sleeping comfortably in her crib at her home down the street.  I am extremely thankful that she has gotten well and should have no ill effects. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

It must be love!

From the moment my then six year old son laid eyes on his brand new baby niece it has been love at first sight.  He was able to come into the delivery room within minutes of her birth and see her on the warming table and kiss her head as his big sister held her daughter for the first time.  He cried as he left the room, so moved by the emotions that he was feeling.
That evening, when we went back to the hospital after going home to change, Dakota got to hold Natalie for the first time and that tiny little girl opened up her eyes and gazed at her uncle and he was hooked, right there, forever.  From that day forward she has been his focus.  It was hard on him when, for the first two months of her life, she lived in North Carolina, but from the day she moved home in late July 2011, she has been his princess and he has been her brave and fearless knight.  He has held her, rocked her and sang to her.  He has fed her and whispered sweet nothings in her ear.  He never tires of making her smile and laugh and he is like a proud father every time she does something new and hits a new milestone.  He tells me about all the things he is going to do with her as she gets bigger and all the things he is going to teach her.  I honestly thought that the infatuation would wear off, especially with us watching her ten hours a day, five days a week, but she still lights up when she sees him and he still makes her the focus of his day whenever she is here. 

 Today, six and a half months later, we went to a Christmas party together and Natalie has learned to "kiss", opening her mouth wide, drooling happily, and pulling the recipient close with both hands.  I don't think I will ever forget the picture I have of them locked together, nose to nose, closer than close.  She loves him and he loves her.  It should be a wonderful life watching the two of them grow up together, side by side.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Working for the Weekend

This week we are doing some schoolwork, but it's been laid back, starting at 10:30, taking an hour for lunch and finishing up by 2:00.  Daddy is working nights so he sleeps til noon, but then he's here in the afternoon so Dakota wants to have his attention.  We are talking about the constitution, Ben Franklin and Paul Revere in History so that we can start in on the War of 1812 and the Civil War after the holiday.  We haven't been doing any science/health at all because I just have no desire to start a new unit at this point.  We have been reading another Magic Tree House, Christmas In Camelot, but doing painting and projects with it instead of written work.  Workbooks for Language Arts.  Regular studies for math and spelling.  Crafts and Christmas music for art and music.   Wrestling for PE.  This Friday will be our last day for the year.  I am hoping to start 2012 off with lots of prepared lessons and some great ideas to make our winter months fun. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Our Tree Cutting Adventure

Yesterday we made our second trip in about four years to Chesapeake Beach to cut down our Christmas tree.  In years past we had always just gone to the local tree stand and bought one, but about three or four years ago we decided we wanted to cut down our own.  This year we went a little earlier than we normally get our tree, but it was a free afternoon and evening so we jumped on it.  My husband, two sons and my older son's best friend hopped in the truck around 3:00 and headed out.  We plugged in my teenager's Ipod and all sand loudly to a variety of songs as we headed south on a clear, chilly day.  We arrived at the farm around 4:00 and headed out to find the perfect tree.  We had only been walking a few minutes when the perfect one jumped right out and called my name!  There it was, perfectly shaped and ready to be taken home!  We cut it down, wrapped it up and piled it into the back of the truck.  We rode around the area for a bit looking at Christmas decorations and then, when the sun had started to set, we went down to the beach, where the Christmas lights were up and the little town was decorated in full force.  

We stopped at a restaurant and had a great meal and the guys got to finish watching the Army/Navy game then we drove down to the beach and got out, walking the boardwalk and admiring the full moon reflecting off the water.  I love going places with my boys.  There is no place I would rather be than with the three of them.

We walked along the luminary trail to the old time candy shop and then browsed in a few small shops before getting ice cream and sitting in Adirondack chairs and laughing at the preteen girls that were giggling and flirting with the teenage boys and at Dakota, seven years old and full of all the swagger the older boys wished they could have.  The ride home was filled with more loud singing and lots of laughter and love.  Anyone can go and buy a tree and bring it home and put it up, but making a day of it is absolutely the very best way to go.  I love the tradition we are starting for our boys and any time I can spend a little time just savoring our family, I always do.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Awesome Monday

Today we had a great homeschooling day.  Natalie arrived late so I had time to get my materials and ideas together.  Koda asked to do his new USA puzzle around 10 and I said yes.  When he finished, I gave him the large USA floor puzzle to do.  Then we layed out our "flashcards" of the states that I got at the dollar store and matched the capitals with them.  It was a simple idea that Dakota took to right away and he loved matching them up and learning ones we didn't know. 

Next up was reading and he went in on my bed and asked me to bring the baby in so he could read to her.  She happily played with her toys and her toes and he felt important being able to read aloud to her.  We moved out to the livingroom and got into the recliner with ...If You Lived in Colonial Times by Ann McGovern (love anything by her).  We got through the first 32 pages and laughed together at the foods they ate, the things they had to do at school and the "medicines" they made.  Afterward we made some cornbread muffins, Dakota's only sure thing when it comes to eating colonial food. 

After lunch we read The Magic School Bus and the Five Senses and then watched the MSB video "Makes a Stink".  We talked about the sense of smell after that and read a few pages on about the nose and what it does.  Then we played the smell identification game where he wore a blindfold and I let him smell some very common things around here.  I was amused when he said a marshmallow was hot chocolate (close!) and amazed that he had no idea for syrup, which he eats almost every day of his life on pancakes or french toast sticks.  We finished off Science with a reading of Ferdinand the Bull.  I love that book!  We did two pages in our Language Arts book and Unit 11 bookwork for Spelling.  We made a foam manger craft complete with a small replica of the baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph and sang "Away in a Manger" and discussed what it meant.  Last, but not least, we finished Unit 11 in Math.  It amazes me that regrouping came so easy for him.  He gets it easily and can do it in his head.  Sometimes math can be more confusing, though, when they make you go step by step and he can't just do it in his head and be done.  He's always done math in his head, even when he was counting and little.  I'm glad someone in this house has a math talent!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Twas the First Day Of Christmas

Today is December 1st, the first day of the Christmas season in my mind.  I have vowed, as I always do, to try to do one Christmas based activity a day this month.  Today was very hectic for me.  I had work to do this morning and I spent too much time on the phone with my mom and my friend :-)  By the time we got around to schoolwork it was 1:00.  We finished our Thanksgiving on Thurday Magic Tree House book and watched the next segment of the Liberty's Kids series.  I got constantly interrupted by phone calls and the baby and decided that I just was going to let it go.  For our Christmas activity we got down all the Christmas decorations from the attic and, after dinner, made our first batch of chocolate chip cookies.  We have already been watching movies together lately and tonight we watched Mickey's Christmas Carol and part of Winnie the Pooh before interest was lost and I was left to myself.  Taking this opportunity for the gem that it was, I turned on Supernanny and took a minute to update here on my blog.  I am hoping against hope that tomorrow is the smoothest day of this hectic week, but I have to go in to work early, hit Kohls sometime to use my Kohls cash and make a return and still try to get in a decent school day. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho's off to work we go!  Thanksgiving is over (can that possibly be true??) and it's time to get back to business and a schedule around here. There won't be any official homeschooling, as in new units etc, because we had our first yearly review on the 18th, took all of last week off for the holiday and now we have lots of cub scout homework that's due tomorrow including reports, posters and projects that we have been putting off.  Of course, all that stuff is educational and I am sure I will be able to record it in our log, but, as always, I wish I was more organized today and knew what I was supposed to tackle first and had my supplies together.

After a trip to the pediatrician for both Natalie and Dakota and a stop at my job to drop off and pick up work, we got home and had lunch and then started our school day.  Dakota read and then went onto to practice last week's spelling words that were introduced, but never worked on.  We tackled the boy scout book and sang some patriotic sing-along songs, learned about germs and basic first aid and read books about conserving energy and how not to pollute the earth.  We talked about renewable and non-renewable resources and checked off another set of boy scout achievements.  After some math we went on a walk to clean up our neighborhood to satisfy another achievement.  We gathered trash and recyclables together while Natalie got some fresh air in her stroller.  We actually accomplished alot in a little time and made a pretty impressive mark in our log book.  Tomorrow we still have to do our report and poster, but we should be able to finish our Thanksgiving Magic Tree House book (just a little late!) and have a fairly normal homeschooling day.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanksgiving Week

This has been a full and crazy busy Thanksgiving week, thankfully with a healthy family, much unlike last week.  My husband had the week off for vacation so we took our little son and our granddaughter to Arundel Mills with us to get a new cell phone.  Dakota got in the hamster balls at the food court and wore himself out while we let Natalie sit on the table and entertain us.  Tuesday we left early and took our boys to Ocean City for an over night excursion.  We stopped for breakfast at Bob Evans and then went to Blackwater Wildlife Refuge in Cambridge on the way down.  We stopped and walked a trail and Dakota got the idea to "try out" this dark black mud that they have put down near the water and before we could get to him he was sinking and lost both shoes on the way out!  Dad to the rescue, holding onto a tree branch and leaning out with a stick to scoop up the shoes, getting his shoes black and almost sucked off in the process.  It was histerical and my older son and I enjoyed watching their antics.  We got to see several bald eagles up close and finally headed out to finish our trip to the Ocean.  We got there around 3:00, checked in to the Carousel and then the three guys went swimming.  When they came back we went across the street to Winterfest to ride the train and see the lights and when we got back the boys went ice skating at the rink in the hotel.  Dad went for pizza and by the time they were worn out we were able to eat and then hop in our beds and do our own thing and watch The Santa Claus on Tv.  Tuesday we were up and out by 10 and made our way back home where I cooked and cleaned and we got ready for the big feast.  Our granddaughter joined us for an overnight visit around 9 and we all called it a night.

My daughter made my day early on when she called Thanksgiving morning at 7 saying she couldn't sleep and did I want to have coffee while we waited for the baby to wake up.  I always love having the time to sit and chat with her and we watched a movie and relaxed while Tom the Turkey roasted in the oven.  She went home to get ready, we watched the parade and our other daughter and her friend were over by noon.  At 2:30 my sister in law joined us and we had a nice, relaxing Thanksgiving dinner, the very first for our littlest princess.  She was the center of attention and looked so cute in her little gray sweater. 

The dinner ended early with everyone having plans to go see others and my Brians got ready and headed to see the Ravens game.  Dakota and I took Keri and her friend home and then we got on our pjs and watched the Ravens game for a bit in the recliners before calling it a night around 10.

Friday morning I got up early and went Black Friday shopping for a few hours.  It was a bit lonely going alone, but I got alot done and was home by 11 to clean up, pack and head out at 1:30 for our cabin camping trip in Hagerstown.  We took our dog, Riley, and he did a great job in the car.  We got to Jellystone a little after 3, took a walk and then settled in for a quiet night....or as quiet as Dakota would let it be.  He did find some friends and today, Saturday, after a few walks and two games of mini golf, he is outside with the all the kids from the campsites playing baseball with one of the dad's supervising.  Nice.  Now I have to decide if I want to call it a night and head home early or if I want to try to occupy Dakota tonight here and head home in the morning.  I really just can't decide. I don't really feel like packing up, but we slept three of us to a double bed last night and I would really love to sit in my recliner.....we'll see.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Getting over the hump

Today has been a quiet day with videos and reading as our base for homeschooling.  Dakota and I are both recovering from a nasty bout with the stomach flu and it's nice to have a pj day and keep things quiet.  As I write this, however, Dakota must be feeling back to normal because he is thumping his chest and singing Cotton Eye Joe :-) 

We started our next Magic Tree House book this morning - Thanksgiving on Thursday.  Again, I print the word wall vocabulary strips from and Dakota is so excited to find out that he is familiar with many of these words.  I find that he stumbles over an easy one, though, and it opens the door to further explanation.  We read three chapters and do the simple comprehension questions we find posted online at  Next we watch the first episode of Liberty's Kids, The First Fourth of July.  It's a little too old for him and we have to watch carefully and I point out the parts that I want him to take note of.  We even rewind in a few spots and I think he got as much as he could out of it considering he is only seven.  We then did our packet from on George Washington and I was really pleased with what he now knows about him. 

After lunch we snuggled up again and read books about young pochontas and young squanto and then some fun Thanksgiving reading books.  We stopped and took some time for a foam art craft and then enjoyed singing along to some patriotic songs like Home On the Range and This Land is Your Land.  I love teaching American History!  Finally, with Dakota's attention surprisingly still strong and focused, we read a book about the heart and lungs and then did a cloze activity with a venn diagram.  The best part of today was that even on "his" time there was no tv and no whining about video games.  He spent his spare time writing an eleven page book of his own about superheroes using stickers to illustrate.  I was very impressed!  He wrote the story in his "Dakota's Creation" book and he is very proud!

Tomorrow is our first review for first grade with the county.  It doesn't worry me.  I have everything together, with a few papers needing to be filed into the binder and I know that I teach plenty and have done more than an adequate job of educating him.  I know I get some flack from my unschooling friends about "schooling at home", which seems to be taboo in the homeschooling world, but it's what works for us and I never have to worry come review time that we won't make the grade. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sharp's Farm

Today we had a field trip to Sharp's Farm in Brookeville, MD.  It was a gorgeous drive and we had lots of great people who joined us on the trip.  The kids sat down and learned about what the pilgrims used to survive when they came to the new world.  Dakota was amazed that they used shells and gourds for plates and bowls and pitchers.  Then we went to the Pilgrim Chores building where the kids learned what chores were done by the men and what chores were done by the women.  Our next stop was games, of course a favorite for all the kids.  They got to run around and burn off a little energy and then hop up on the wagon and take a fun hayride.  The kids all squealed and giggled when the big tractor took us all through the water!  Our last stop was the corn maze.  It was a little sparse this time of year, but enjoyable all the same.  The rain held off, the temps were mild and we got back into the car two and a half hours later feeling tired, hungry and happy.  You can't ask for more!

Monday, November 14, 2011

One video says it all.

If you are a follower of my blog you know that I am an Archbishop Spalding Cavalier football mom.  Every season is emotional for me, watching my son from age six to eighteen, but this season was his last and it was a special one for us all.  Our coach, Mike Whittles, is an awesome man.  He is the friendliest man you will ever meet and he truly loves football and his players.  He expects alot from his boys, but in return, he gives so much more. We have been involved with alot of teams over the years, but never before have I witnessed the emotions that play out on the football field at Spalding.  Coach Whittles and all his assistant coaches, including my husband, not only give football instruction, they give love.  They hug the boys often.  They express their feelings openly. It is not unheard of to hear the words "I love you" from coach to player or player to coach.  It has been an awesome experience being a spectator to such love and I feel very blessed that my son got to experience it as well. 

This year our coach found out in February that he has stage IV pancreatic cancer.  It was a devastating blow to everyone, but Coach has been there through it all, fighting the cancer as brutally as he prepares his players to fight the opponent.  He would go to chemo treatments in the morning and stand on the sidelines coaching his boys at night.  He has taught the boys to appreciate every opportunity and his motto is "Make Every Day Count".  What an inspiration he has been to each and every one of us, but especially to impressionable young men who are still figuring out how to act in the world of adults. 

This Friday our team played their final game of the 2011 season.  My son played the final game of his career.  Coach Whittles...he hopes to be back on the sidelines next year coaching the next line of Spalding players.  He isn't a quitter and, God willing, you will be hearing about the miracle that is Coach Whittles for many years to come.  He is "Mr. 5%".  Miracles do happen and he is a walking, talking, hugging, loving example.  In this video, at the end, it is my son, #18, who is in tears, hugging the coach and expressing his love.  What a beautiful expression of emotion between two people.  Thank you, Coach Whittles, for every day of the last two football seasons.  Thank you for being a inspiration to my husband and my son.  Thank you for loving us all.  Because of you, we are working hard to Make Every Day Count.  We love you!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Let Me Off!!!

This past week I have felt like I am on a merry go round moving at top speed and I just want off!  I have been running, running, running non-stop and when I am not running and I am home there is so much to be done that I am overwhelmed.  Today I was supposed to do all my shopping early and then clean the carpets and do my work tonight while the guys went to the Towson game so that I could relax tomorrow.  Right......NOT.  I ended up shopping all day, bringing the last of the groceries in at 6:00.  I spent way too much money trying to shop for the two weeks and also for Thanksgiving and spending money on some Christmas things too that I really shouldn't have.  Oh well.  So now tomorrow, instead of relaxing, I will be cleaning this filthy house, cleaning the filthy carpets, wiping up the filthy floors, doing the laundry and then working.  Sigh.  It just goes round and round and round. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Today, Dakota, Natalie and I went to Goucher College to see the Thunderbird American Indian Dancers.  It was Natalie's first show and she loved watching the dancers, but the applause had her jolting around and stiffening her body.  It was unexpected to her and she was startled.  Dakota really enjoyed it. 

When we got home I had plans for lots of schoolwork, but I am wiped out from the constant go, go, go of this week and we are sitting together munching popcorn and watching Pochantas.  Maybe we'll get some reading in.  Maybe not.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I met Beethoven!!

Today we had a program at our co-op to Meet the Composer.  Mr. Keith Derrickson runs a program where the kids gather around and Beethoven appears via time machine, complete with whirling disco lights. He arrived and captivated the children, talking about his youth, playing pieces of his music and making them giggle using a ventriloquist dummy.  He took them through his growing up years and through the time in Vienna when he was studying music as a young adult.  He acted out how Beethoven looked ot be snubbing people (and got a bad reputation for being grumpy and rude), but in reality, he was embarrassed by his hearing loss and couldn't bear to let people know.

The hour program was just right.  It was fantastic and I can't wait until the spring when we will invite him back to do a program on Johann Sebastian Bach.  Great job, Mr. Derrickson!  Thank you so much for making Beethoven fun!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Senior Night

Friday night, November 4, was one that I have both looked forward to and dreaded for many years.  My "boy of fall", my eighteen year old son, Brian David, would play his last game at "home" at Archbishop Spalding and one of the very last games of his long, thirteen season football career. 

Brian couldn't wait to start playing football.  At the time, Anne Arundel County was starting it's first year of 65lb ball, the youngest they had ever had, and Brian was so excited to start!  A friend of my husband's called and asked him to help coach and there you had it...history in the making! Coach Baublitz began his long and successful football coaching career, leading his son and "running the table" through his football years.

 From that late summer day in 1999 to this late fall evening in 2011, my son has put his heart and soul into more games than I can count.  He started out at 42lbs, small but full of fire. There was never a player he feared, no matter their size. He played his entire rec ball "career" at the Pasadena Chargers and played only one of those years without his dad's coaching, although dad was still coaching nearby.  He was number 11 for those first two years, but soon chose number 13 and stuck with it until high school.  He was a quarterback by 85lb and led his team with confidence, gaining the respect of players who were much bigger and stronger, but few knew the game as well as he did.  I have fond memories of my two Brians on the field in their Charger black and gold, having huddles and talks, getting and giving plays and practicing long into the twilight and early evening from July through November.  My husband found his calling in coaching and my son found his passion on the field and I was proud of both of them when I watched what unfolded through the years.  I always knew that my husband would coach all his players with fun and safety in mind, fair, but tough. Winning was important, but self discipline and fundamentals were the core. My son learned well and played by the rules, never playing "dirty".  He lost with grace and won with dignity. He was, very often, the smallest kid on that field, but he also was, very often, the kid with the very biggest heart. Some memories that stick out in my mind...
  • Way back when, in 1999, our little 65lb team played their first scrimmage.  It was against the "big" 75lb kids and it was just starting to get dark at Lake Waterford.  My little blond haired, blue eyed sweetheart, never before in a football game, took his first hit and went flying backward 10 yards.  As he crumpled to the ground I felt two hands on my shoulders and a voice in my ear that said "stay here".  I wanted to sprint onto the field and scoop him up and hug him.  But my boy, with all the swagger he could muster, pulled himself up, wiped off the blood from his lip and got back into the huddle.   I will never know who it was that stopped me from embarrassing my son that evening, but whoever you are, thank you.  My son needed to realize that he could take the hit and get back on his feet.  From that day on, he was never afraid.  He took many, many hits and flew back many, many yards, but by the grace of God, he always got right back up onto his feet and got right back into that huddle.
  • Practices at Lake Waterford...all of them.  Beginning in mid July we sideline moms would haul out our chairs, bring our coffee and pick up where we left off the following year.  Some moms came and others went, but there were alot of friendships made along the way.  Barb, Jackie R., Jackie B., Carol, know who you are.  We sat in the scorching heat, hung out when the leaves began to fall and huddled under blankets as November neared.  Our boys, at the beginning, came to us to put on their pads, snap their helmets and help them with gloves.  By the end, we were only there because we couldn't bear to miss it.  They surely didn't need us for help anymore.  They went from being small and cute with missing teeth and skinned up knees to gangly preteens, not quite comfortable in their new longer arms and legs  Then, toward the end, they left a boy and returned almost a man.  Mustaches were sprinkled in with straight teeth and stylish hair.  Biceps, pecs and quads all bulged against their pads.  It was all so bittersweet, but I wouldn't have missed one moment.
  • The game at GORC, when the boys were about nine years old.  It was freezing cold and pouring rain.  There were tents set up and heaters and between plays the boys would try to thaw out, but it was futile.  We parents held umbrellas and, soaked to the bone, cheered for our boys, but in the end, they lost, and I will forever remember the sad little faces looking up at my husband as he gave his speech, tears mixed with raindrops and water actually puddling up and pouring out of their shoes.  Those kids gave their heart and soul each and every game and it always hurt when they walked away empty handed.
  • Charger traditions...most made by Coach Brian.  Back In Black playing on the sound system, or Thunderstruck. Everything and everyone decked out in black and gold. "Locker room" talks, where all parents were "banned", that were really only benches down by the lake where the coaches pumped the boys up and the boys confessed their hopes and fears.  One of my favorite traditions was when the team would line up at home games and come onto the field as one, helmets on, holding hands.  That gave me chills every time! We all had a complete wardrobe of black and gold and when Dakota came along in 2004 he got mini sized shirts to wear.  He was on the field for the first time at four days old and he learned to walk on the field, pushing his walking toy out onto the fields to try to do the warm up exercises with the boys. 
There were many friends made on the field over the years, as well as on the sidelines.  Coaches and kids formed a bond that still is strong so many years later.  It is true what they say in that Kenny Chesney song The Boys of Fall..."you mess with one man, you got us all".  They were brothers on the field.  They were one. And all these years later, they still embrace and talk about their Charger pride. There is a sense of loyalty and discipline on a football field and a sense of brotherhood that prevails long after they have played their last game under the lights. Football may be just a game, but there are alot of life's lessons sprinkled throughout and most players take what they have learned on the field and use it wisely as they move on with their lives.

And who could forget the Anne Arundel County championship, played at Navy Stadium, that last year with the 135lb team.  Those boys worked so hard to get there and that night, under the lights, they won it all.  The emotions were so high and I will never, ever forget it.  My husband and my son found each other first and hugged each other tight before hugging everyone else on the field.  Brian David's picture was in the Baltimore Sun, being lifted high by another teammate.  He is beaming and you can see it all written on his face.  We called the paper and had a color copy of that picture mailed to us and it remains framed and hung on his bedroom wall, reminding us all of the thrill of that Charger championship.

And then came high school. It was the first time that father and son would play for different teams.  I think it was important for our son to know that he could play ball and pull his own weight because he was a good player, not because he was the coach's son.  Brian was a captain for the Cardinal Gibbons Crusader JV team and he wore his colors with pride.  The school was small and the field lacked many of the bells and whistles of some of the other schools, but those boys loved football and they loved each other.  Red and white became our colors of choice and I loved parking my car and walking towards that field, seeing my son and his teammates warming up.  I will always remember riding along the road that runs above the football field and looking down at the boys in their uniforms, getting ready for the big game.  We made some new friends and some new memories, and just when we were ready to move to the varsity level, our school closed and we had to find another home. 

Since everything happens for a reason and our school's closing was excruciatingly painful and full of questionable reasoning, maybe the stars lined up in this partiular way so that father and son could play together again.  For his junior and senior years, Brian David was once again on his father's team.  Red and white were still our colors, but we were no longer Crusaders.  We were the Spalding Cavaliers.  We took some time to adjust, feeling like intruders at first in an unfamiliar world, but Brian soon fit right in with his new teammates and he had two interceptions in his junior year...the highlight of his time at Spalding.  And, once again, these well coached young men made it to the championship and I screamed and cheered and basked in the glow when my husband and son won yet another victory, finding each other and then scaling the walls to hug the family and friends that had come to watch.  Some kids never get to experience one season of glory.  We are truly blessed that Brian David has had more glory than most.  He embraces each and every moment and, if anyone deserves it, he does.  He is such a wonderful kid and it all means so much to him.

So here we are, back at senior night. Time to leave the past behind and embrace the present.  Our Spalding team went into the A conference this year and the competition has been fierce, but we have perservered.  Brian hasn't gotten a ton of playing time, but he has gotten enough and he is okay with it.  Friday night was his senior night, his last home game, possibly his last game ever.  We parents made banners and posters, commemorating the boy that was and the man that is.  They got special black jerseys with their names on the back.  It was all first class.  And there I was, lined up along the sidelines with all the other parents of seniors, waiting for my son to join me and for me to participate in the ceremony that I have witnessed over and over through the years.  It was surreal.  This couldn't really be happening, could it?  Was my baby really this handsome young man who was coming over to take my arm.  And then my beautiful son, in his shoulder pads and uniform, escorted his dad, little brother and I onto the field and we stood among the other families and had our moment.  We all turned to face the screen and a video played, highlighting each senior's achievements on the field, Boys of Fall playing on the screen.  I didn't cry.  I thought I would.  Lord knows I have cried enough in the days leading up to this.  But instead, I felt incredible pride.  My son had his arm around me and tears in his bright blue eyes as we sang the song softly and watched the screen.  It was all over so fast.  The boys broke and all started to run to the rest of the team, but almost as one, they all turned back around and hugged their families...and then they were gone, off to play the game.  My beautiful boy.  And once again, against mighty odds, he was given one more incredible memory when his team beat Loyola in overtime and they lived to fight together one more time.  I have video of my husband and son kneeling together, saying a prayer, heads bowed as that final play was made.  As they realized we scored they went running onto the field and into the arms of their teammates and then, through the lens of the camera, I watched them find each other and come running back out, my son lifted high in my husband's arms. And then back they went again.  How incredibly sweet this sport of football has been in our lives.  How incredibly blessed we are.

And so, we have another game.  Possibly only one more.  But I have made my peace with it now and I am ready....that's a lie.  I will never be ready.  But I am more ready than I was before.  God, bless this boy.  Keep him safe as you so graciously have done throughout each of his thirteen seasons.  Allow him to appreciate the game and the team and to store away those memories in a place where he can have easy access whenever he wants to reminisce.  Brian David, I am so incredibly proud of you.  You will always be my football hero, my boy of fall, and I will forever remember each and every memory that you have given to me over the years.  I love you!

Going to get better!!

I used to be really good about taking a few minutes each day to write in my blog and I enjoyed it, but I let life get in the way and I am behind.  I am going to try to improve!!  Today was not a perfect homeschooling day, but we are salvaging what we can.  I had to work (transcribing from home) to get my work in by noon and we got a very late start.  I let Dakota sleep in and then play for awhile and then he sat beside me reading while I finished.  The baby played and slept and after lunch I had Dakota watch a video on music with great vocabulary called Magic Musical Voyage while I got myself together and had my own lunch.  He read a book to the baby while I opened my computer and prepared and then he hopped up in the recliner with me and we read/discussed the thirteen colonies and the French and Indian war.  He had some great questions!  We stopped after briefly touching on the Revolutionary War, which will be our topic for the rest of the week.  He took a blank map of the United States and colored the thirteen colonies and we discussed when the border looked like it did (the Appalachian Mountains were in the way!) and then answered some simple mapping questions.  He is great at geography, thanks to some intense learning over the past couple of years in fun ways.  After history and geography, he wanted to finish his tall tale from Friday when he wrote it up on a graphic organizer.  He wrote about a man who was in a band who sang a song in one breath that lasted from day to night and it was titled Rock On :-)+

I tend to lose Dakota's attention around 3:00.  It doesn't matter if we start at 9am or 2pm, at 3pm, he's finished.  Since we got such a late start I skipped Science and Health and we only did two pages of our math unit.  We are working on more complex parts of telling time and I know that he has to really think hard about hit so I didn't want to ask too much, especially after writing his own tall tale.  We got in our Spelling 9 introduction and the two workbook pages and then he was out of there!  I added religion from our Sunday School class activities from yesterday and his PE time wrestling in the leaves with the neighbor boys.  As I try to decompress a bit now, deciding if I should do what I NEED to do and work or what I SHOULD do and coupon and plan or want I WANT to do and read my library books that have been just sitting unopened for days.  Decisions, decisions...Anyway, I am here, writing in my blog currently while The Scrambled United States plays on the DVD player so I can pre-screen it and see if it's worth our time for tomorrow.  It's a little crazy, but cute.  It is probably great at teaching the names of the states, but Dakota already knows those.  Time is always very valuable and I would like to squeeze in watching Pocahontas tomorrow afternoon if at all possible.  

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Today is Halloween and we had a full and fun day. We started out with Social Studies, making a poster for manners and doing a few other homework assignments from our Cub Scout handbook.  We had an early detour in our plans when Natalie wasn't feeling well and had to be taken in to the doctor.  Poor baby has walking pneumonia!  I am glad we got her in early and caught it before she got really sick.  After that we visited the Arbutus library to take back a bunch of books and to get a new stack for this coming week, including some new drawing books by Ed Emberley that are Dakota's new favorites.  He as a "creation" book now for all his writings and drawing. We came home for lunch and then I let Koda do a little reading before he and I read a stack of Halloween books.  We read Stellaluna, Charlie Brown and more.  We then continued our Digestion lesson for Science and Health by watching Bill Nye the Science Guy and then did our math.  We had religion this weekend at Sunday School and PE, as well, with tag and pick up football outside.  After math we carved our pumpkin, made a pumpkin pie, listened to Ghostbusters, Thriller and the Adams Family  song on Youtube before wrapping it up at 4.  We handed out candy for a few hours and then Koda got his costume on and we spent an hour walking the neighborhood with some old Charger friends and then coming home for a late dinner and some pie for dessert.  I can't believe that Halloween is over already and now it's time to get ready for Thanksgiving!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Clark's Elioak Farm

Today was our annual trip to Clark's Farm in Howard County.  I've been going there for many years now, since Brian David was little.  I remember some of my friends with their babies, who are now older than Dakota!  Today I had my baby boy, who is almost too old for the attractions, and my daughter with my granddaughter, who was really too young this year to enjoy it.  We met three of our favorite families there along with some other homeschool friends and spen the morning feeding the animals, going on a hayride and picking an itty bitty pumpkin.  My favorite part of the day was going with our friends to the evergreen maze and watching Dakota and his seven little friends running with each other through the maze, laughing and chattering with each other while we mommies tried to keep up.  I am so glad that Dakota and I have found close friends who we see at most events and that our group is slowly growing to include more wonderful women and their awesome kids.  Paige, Barb, Kelly and know I am talking about YOU!  :-)  After the farm my daughter and I took our two kids to Pizza Hut and spent some time together chatting.  I love spending time with her.  It's very rewarding to see her mother her own child.  She's a natural, but that is not unexpected.  I have learned so much for her, as I hope she has learned so much from me. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Trying to make it all work

Yesterday was a really busy day.  We are working on bones and the skeletal system right now for Science and Health. We are having fun with that, making pasta skeletons and reading fun books.  We also started reading A Good Night for Ghosts, a Merlin story in the Magic Tree House series.  I love those books and I'm glad that Dakota does now too.  This one is all about New Orleans in the early 1900's and they go back to find a young Louis Armstrong and set him on the right path to becoming the King of Jazz.  Not only was I able to pull a great music lesson out of there, introducing Dakota to both jazz and Armstrong, but we are also adding to our vocabulary with alot of words he is unfamiliar with from the time period like streetcars.  He had no idea what they were until we saw some great drawings in the book. 

Every kid has their hot button....the one that will make them do just about anything to receive it.  For some kids it's M&Ms.  For some it is a sticker.  For Dakota, it's a strip of paper with a vocabulary word on it to put on his word wall.  I print them out ahead of time, usually already pre-made by, and we go through them before we read each day to see if we know any of the words or have learned them in our reading.  When he can give me a good definition, I put two pieces of rolled tape on the back and he gets to put them on his wall.  He LOVES this.  He will turn himself inside out to get one!  He tries to trick me as the day goes on, asking me "Hey, Mom.  What is a document?"  He listens closely to the story to hear the words and he points them out days later when he hears them.  I love that he loves something so simple and wonderfully educational!

We sat outside at our deck table doing our workbook pages and spelling and got in just about everything except history and spanish.  After school time he got to go outside for a little while and play with the neighbors and then we headed to the middle school about a mile from here to test out wrestling and see if he liked it.  I am NOT a fan of the sport, but my daughter is and my son in law used to wrestle.  All three of us were there for him and wouldn't you know, he loved it.  Today I took him to get his wrestling shoes, bright blue and $50 and then tonight, at Cub Scouts, I realized that we have scouts on the same night that wrestling will soon be on.  Great.  Have to work that out.  And basketball.  Wants to play that too.  Sigh.  Just when I was starting to enjoy the downtime it has taken off again with a flash.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Back to Work

After a day off for Columbus Day, another day off because I couldn't get enough done on our day off and then co-op and a game day playdate on Wednesday, we finally got back to the routine today.  WWe started working on the human body for Science and Health....talking about skeletons around Halloween seemed too perfect to pass up!  We are going to continue learning about bones and the human skeleton for science and go through the systems of the body for health.  Everything came together for geography/social studies/history.  We read a few different sections of 100 Explorers and talked about Columbus and then Magellan and Drake.  We had previously mapped Columbus's route on a world map on the wall and today we added the route around the world for the other two.  We talked about how their adventure and success traveling around the globe convinced the rest of the world that the Earth was indeed round!  Then we read a great book about maps and globes and did a mapping workbook that introduced latitude and longitude and gave Dakota practice in using different skills for finding places on the map. 
We finally got back to regular math and language arts, completing problem solving and subtraction practice and working on "D" stories, Super Sentences and Language Arts 2.  On Monday we had started a new bulletin board for our Bible stories crafts and we added Noah's Ark today and a handprint rainbow.  Dakota listened to his Ipod for music, singing along (loudly!) and for art, Dakota did some woodworking, sanding his raingutter regatta boat and putting on three coats of paint.  Tomorrow after school, Dakota will be going to his first boyscout campout!  It will be interesting to see how that goes!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Columbus Day

Today was the observed holiday for Columbus Day and since my older son had the day off I decided ot give Dakota and I the day off too.  We had covered Columbus in great depth (for a first grader, that is) last week.  We read books, mapped his route, talked about his ideas, did some fun papers and then on Friday we made stand up replicas of the Nina (that Koda pronounces "Ninna"), Pinta and
Santa Maria and of good old Columbus himself. 

Our day started with friends stopping by early.  We ladies had coffee on the deck and the kids played inside.  After they left I decided to tackle the rest of the move towards getting all Dakota's toys into his room and making Natalie's room the nursery with a homeschool cabinet and closet.  It took me about 90 minutes to clean Dakota's room and finish squeezing the last of his little toys into the remaining nooks and crannies while he did a lite brite sheet.  The hubby came home for lunch so we stopped for a little while and then I tackled the playroom/nursery, which is now solely the nursery.  I got all Natalie's clothes either hung up on put in bins, her toys clean, with fresh batteries, on the shelves and all her diapers, wipes, bibs, blankets etc within easy reach.  Then I tackled the homeschool cabinet and closet.  I worked clear up until 6:00, but I finished and everything looks so neat and organized!  I know what supplies I have (at least up here...the basement is a whole other story!) and where they are and as long as I don't look at my two desks, I feel successful!  My hope was to be ready to have a full day of school tomorrow, but I will need one more day to plan and work for PCA before I can be ready for the rest of October.  That's the beauty of homeschooling, though.  Since I need it, I will take it!  And I will try not to feel guilty.  Dakota has plenty of good videos to watch and books to read to keep him occupied for a few hours before I turn him loose to play.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Making it happen

Today I had dozens of things that needed doing, but when Dakota woke up he was eager to get his school day started.  It was a laid back day, sort of fly by the seat of your pants.  We started out with science and continued learning about the layers of the Earth and volcanoes.  I put up a poster with wonderful visuals of the inside of a volcano and we talked about that.  We did part of the SchoolExpress Earth packet and then got out our Oriental Trading compass craft and used a hot glue gun to put that together.  Dakota really liked this part!  Afterward he watched a Magic School Bus video MSB Blows It's Top.  For literature today we read Little Quack's Bedtime and Ping for pleasure and then got into a lesson on the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale, The Ugly Duckling.  Koda liked the story, but completely missed the lesson learned.  We talked about beauty only being skin deep and loving everyone for who they are, no matter what they look like.  Then we did a cloze activity that asked about setting, character and plot.  The last thing we got in was religion and music.  We read the Bible story about Noah and then sang the songs we had and watched them on Youtube videos.  Dakota got a kick out of some of them with the Who Built the Ark song.  He played a couple of Noah's Ark games on the computer and then we read All Afloat With Noah's Boat and called it a day. 

While I took care of the baby and tried to get some things done for co-op tomorrow and cleaned up from today Dakota went to the neighbor's to play.  I could hear them out there playing football and having fun but, of course, when he had to come inside at 6:00 he was full of tears and sad stories because he couldn't stay longer.  He got dressed for scouts and off we went, late again.  Once there, he loved seeing his friends and doing the scout activities and I enjoyed talking to Rhonda and Tom and meeting some new folks that will be in our den.  I let Dakota use his gift card to McDonalds on the way home, got him tucked into bed and finished planning and printing for the New Jersey class I am teaching tomorrow.  It's 11pm and I am exhausted.  Tomorrow looks like co-op early, a little schoolwork and then lots of PCA work for me in the evening while I watch my Wednesday evening shows.  But I am getting ahead of myself.  One day at a a time and it's time for this day to come to a close.  Good Night!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Date night

Last night my husband and had a date.  This doesn't happen often this time of year when time is short, work is piled up and football is in full swing.  We used to go to the Ravens games all the time many years ago, but when our older son got to be 7 or 8 it became the thing to do for father and son and I rarely went.  Then, as the son got to be a teen, I was no longer enough fun to take to the games.  I didn't yell loud enough or often enough, wouldn't paint crazy things on my skin or tolerate stupid behavior from intoxicated people. So I stayed home and really, I didn't mind.  The little son came along and he and I hang out on Sundays, although he's starting to want a little more fair sharing of the tickets!  So anyway, last night my husband asked me to go on a date with him to the Sunday nght game at M&T Bank Stadium between the Ravens and the Jets.  He even made reservations at Nick's Fish House for appetizers and we arrived at 5:00 and had cream of crab soup and a crab pretzel while we enjoyed a drink and some wonderful conversation.  When my husband is tuned in he is wonderful company.  I enjoy being with him and he has always been able to make me laugh.  After our appetizers we parked his truck at his BGE office and he took me inside to see his cubby of an office where he does his thing when he's not on the road.  It was tiny and sparse, but I could see how it was just the kind of place he would like.  No frills.  Just the things he needed.

Our walk to the stadium was dotted by friends, co-workers and acquaintences of my husband.  We finally got inside about 7 and found our seats, which were FABULOUS, just 20 rows off the field.  We got something to eat and drink and settled in.  I completely enjoyed the game.  It had been so long since I had been there and it is a beautiful stadium that is pulsing with energy.  The only less than perfect part of the night was that my husband felt progressively worse from a cold or bad allergies and he finally called it a night half way through the fourth quarter. 

Today he took off of work and I cancelled homeschooling.  He slept in, but I had my granddaughter so it has been a long day.  I did get some winterizing and decluttering done around my son and granddaughter's schedules but I had so much more I wanted to do.  This week is a slow one, however, so I wll just try to keep plugging along and see what I have accomplished by Friday.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

US history in our backyard

Yesterday we had scheduled a trip for our co-op to go to Fort McHenry, home of Francis Scott Key and the Star Spangled Banner.  It's only about ten minutes from us and it offers lots of educational opportunities, but also has wide open spaces for the kids to run and play in.  Of course we woke up to impending rain, as is the case almost every day here lately in Maryland.  The skies were gray and most of those who did say they were coming backed out.  My friend Kelly had never taken her three little girls there and she had really planned for this day, so she said she was packing her raingear and they were in.  Since it was close and Dakota and I had planned to go as well, we packed up the baby and our own rain gear and headed to the Fort.  Once there we were met by another friend, Barb, and her three young sons.  Dakota and I have a Passport to the Parks book and we got to put our first set of stamps inside.  Then our three families headed inside and sat together to watch the film of the Battle of 1812 and how the British bombarded our fort and tried to overtake the city of Baltimore, but failed.  We learned the story of the Star Spangled Banner, who wrote it and how to interpret the words.  It cleared up just in time for us to go outside and tour the grounds.  The kids loved running in and out of the bunkers and barracks.  They weren't happy when we stopped them to try to impress something upon them or teach them a thing or two, but they humored us and then ran off again, happy to be together and outside.  We had a simple picnic lunch at the base of a statue and I enjoyed the company of Kelly and Barb as much as Dakota enjoyed all the kids. 

When we got home, Dakota and I talked briefly about legends.  We read a Level 2 book on The Sword and the Stone and then got comfy in the recliners and watched the Disney movie.  I love that movie and have always enjoyed it.  Dakota, in true form, could have enjoyed it more if he wasn't worried about when it would be over so he could go over the neighbor's house and play with the boys.  After a quick trip to help my friend drop off her car for new tires, he did get a chance to go over their house and came back happy and wound tight after they apparently played Rock Band and he got to sing Living On a Prayer :-)   I spent the evening helping my older son work on his college entrance essays and trying to squeeze in watching Ghost Hunters.  I ended up too tired to make the whole new episode, but DVR is wonderful and it will be there tomorrow when I am ready.

Monday, September 26, 2011

A Fun Monday

Today is Johnny Appleseed's birthday, one of my favorite "Today's Specials" to do as a homeschooler.  This morning we started by reading about apples and about Johnny Appleseed then went in to slice and apple and find the hidden star.  We went to this website,,1713,144191-253197,00.html to get an easy recipe and made some tasty homemade applesauce.  Dakota was old enough now to help with the apple parer and to use a plastic knife to slice the apples and put them in a pot.  We let them simmer while we made an apple tree from tagboard and construction paper, using his traced arm as the tree trunk and his stamped thumbprint as the apples.  By the time we were finished it was time to add the cinnamon and nutmeg and turn up the heat on our applesauce.  I love extending a simple lesson this way.  The house smelled wonderful and my son felt very accomplished, having made a nice treat for the family (even though he won't touch it!)

Spanish is getting the best of me.  I can do the vocabulary, but I'm already using a translation site to help with the phrases.  Dakota doesn't seem phased by it, however, so I guess it's working.  We are taking a break from the states until Thursday and Friday , but we are continuing with mapping, learning about Christopher Columbus and tracing the route he took when he discovered the Americas.  This is actually the kickoff to our US History for the year.  I find it so exciting to do US geography and history, since it's my very favorite. For science, we are starting a week's worth of volcano fun.  We are reading the first three chapters of the Magic Tree House book Vacation Under a Volcano and doing the activities ( and this week we will be learning about the Earth's core and volcanoes.  We have two field trip days Tuesday and Wednesday so I am  making Thursday and Friday our volcano fun days and making a Smithsonian volcano kit and setting it off, learning about Rome, the lost city of Pompeii, making pasta, roman coins and a sundial and learn about mosaics and making a mosaic garden stone kit that we have had for about ten years and never done. Whew! That should be an exciting week's end.  We will wrap up the unit by watching Hercules Friday evening, which should be a great hit with the little man.  

Right now it's quiet in the house.  My husband and I are watching the news and my granddaughter is asleep.  Dakota's grandmom came and got him around 3:30 and they are going to see Dolphin Tale.  Tonight it's a little work and a little tv, maybe even a little reading if I'm lucky.  Monday, I would say, is a success.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Getting into a groove

Every September I start off with a bang, loading the homeschool schedule and asking way too much of my child and of myself.  I want to fit it all in, cover every subject and have everything go smoothly.  I do this EVERY year (for twelve years now!) and you would think I would know better by now.  I end up very stressed out with a stressed out child and I doubt my decision to homeschool at all.  And then I breathe....

The past two weeks I have felt like a spring pulled to capacity and ready to sproing off into the atmosphere!  I know that my hormones were raging as well, which didn't help things.  I was tense this past Wednesday morning, even though it was the first time in four years that I did not have to teach a class at co-op.  I hadn't followed up on the classrooms being open.  I got a late start.  Dakota was on my last nerve.  Same old, same old for the past few weeks, but I really felt like I was losing it.  So I get the kids in the car, stop for coffee, get to the church, schlep my things in and get ready for chaos because we would all be stuck in the hall again...but the classrooms were open.  Patty had heard my latenight plea and had stopped by before work and opened them.  What an angel!  And as the families rolled in, the kids headed down to their classrooms I saw that there was no chaos to be had.  My 7-9 teacher walked in with a sick child, but her aide gathered the materials and easily took over.  So at 9:30 I found myself alone in the big church hall, holding my granddaughter and reading a magazine...and things began to change.  The tide started to turn.  I started to breathe easier.  My headache started to leave.  About 10am I wandered down to the nursery and found all the other moms with little ones chatting and watching the kids.  I peaked in the older classrooms and all was going extremely well.  So I sat.  For the next 90 minutes I held my sleeping granddaughter and chatted with women I value and who have all been there.  We talked about the good and the bad in our lives, laughed at our kids and ourselves and related to each other.  By the time the classes were over I felt so much better.  Upstairs the kids played for a little while together and then we all headed home.  I had loaded my planner with activites for Dakota and I, but I didn't even look at them.  I let it go.  We had co-op and that is all we need to do for Wednesdays.  It's a day to get things done for me and for Dakota to have some quiet time to play and watch a movie or catch up on the things he finds important. 

Thursday started off much better.  It was National Elephant Apprecation Day and Dakota and I started our day doing elephant word games, making an elephant bag puppet and reading all the books we had on elephants.  We did our workbooks, read about hurricanes and worked on spelling words on  We read the story of Cain and Abel and talked about what "I am my brother's keeper" really means and we made tp roll crafts of those brothers who were so very different way back then.  We finished our Pirates Past Noon Magic Tree House book and decided together that we really liked it.  We did "school" for a long time, but it was much more relaxed and we laughed and had fun and enjoyed our day. 

Friday was the first day of Autumn.  We definitely couldn't do anything with leaves since it's POURING down rain and all the leaves are soaked.  We colored some leaves though, and did a symmetry exercise with a scarecrow.  We read books about fall, did our workbooks, took a quiz on our MTH book and read another book about hurricanes.  We worked on our state of the week, Pennsylvania, and did some fun workbooks, coloring pages and made a collage from the Pennsylvania Visitor's guide that I had ordered online a few months ago.  We also watched the virtual tour of the Hershey's Chocolate Factory and Dakota remembered how much he enjoyed that when we visited there.  It's one of my favorites too.  I had a few more things on the schedule for today, but at 2:30 we called it a day and I left the rest for Monday.  Tonight I am going to swim down to Spalding to watch my older son play water polo...oh no, wait, the pouring down rain and my brother in law is, thankfully, taking Dakota to a Baltimore Raven's football fun night with tours of the locker room and a movie for all.  I am very grateful to him because I really don't want to take Dakota out in this monsoon. 

So nothing has changed, really, but then again, everything has.  I have remembered what I choose to forget each year....we are homeschooling to avoid the grind.   We do not NEED to work from 9-3.  We do not NEED to get every subject covered every day.  Some days, we do not NEED to school at all.  What we NEED to do is enjoy each other and our time together because all too soon Dakota too will be grown and my homeschooling adventure will be over.  Make Every Moment Count!!  You can bet I am going to try.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Friday nearly did me in!!

Friday was the last day in the craziest of September weeks.  I had to be out the door, supposedly, at 8:20 for a field trip, but at 8:15 I still had a friend, my daughter, my husband and the two little ones in the living room.  We got a late start to the Anne Arundel County Fair Children's Day, but by divine intervention we made it there on time.  I only had one family do a "no call/no show", which is better than most times, and my sister, great nephew, Dakota, Natalie and I began our day.  There were the usual displays and animals and a new treat, a camel ride, that the boys really enjoyed.  We got to the pig and duck races just in time to see them and Dakota got picked as the "cheerleader" for the duck race, which made him happy.  I love spending time with my sister, so it was a real treat.  We got lunch and watched a police dog demonstration and then headed over to the rides.  My sister said that she would meet me at the rides after taking her grandson to see the cows, but she didn't make it back in time for the ferris wheel, so Natalie took her first ride, although she slept through it all lol.  Right after that I seemed to hit the proverbial brick wall and I was DONE!  I know I was grumpy and I just wanted to leave, but Dakota wanted to ride a few more rides and play a few games and Natalie was sleeping at last, so we stayed an additional hour.  When it was time to unload the stroller, however, I got even more overdone.  There was stuff everywhere and I just didn't want to deal with it.  By the time I got home I was a huge grump and, of course, my daughter was here trying to help, but I didn't want anyone to even breathe in my space.  Natalie was awake AGAIN and I fed her, but she just wasn't having any of playing on her own or being put down.  I ended up having to run to the bank and by the time I got back Natalie was ready to begin an hour of all out anger/temper cries and I was losing it.  Just about 4:30 I received a visit from an angel in disguise.  A young mother friend of mine stopped by to pay for tickets to a show I am running and I talked her into coming in.  She ended up chatting with me and putting natalie to sleep and by the time she left I felt some semblance of calm.  Of course, Natalie was up 10 minutes after she left, but her mommy was almost here by then. 

After my older daughter took the baby home, I lounged in the chair, surfing through channels.  About 8:15 I finally felt together enough to start my work and I put on one of my favorite movies and actually enjoyed my night.  My husband came home and bought us late night subs, well late night for us at 10:00, and we finished my movie and went to bed.  This morning I feel much more human and ready to face the day.  I guess there are just some days that get the best of you and yesterday was definitely one of them!!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Our only day home this week

Today we got a late start to schoolwork because I got caught up in trying to rearrange the playroom, soon to be Natalie's nursery only, and Dakota's room.  We got going about 10:30 and got in our ladybug packet and our work on Delaware.  I have lots of fun books and coloring books for the states and I am looking forward to sharing them all with Koda.  We got a call from our friends who were going to be in the are and, in true homeschool form, changed the schedule and had an impromptu playdate.  I got to chat with my girlfriend and Koda and his buddy got to play for a good 90 minutes before they left and we resumed our work.  We didn't have long before we had to take Brian to get his truck, so we squeezed in a little language arts basics and then I hooked up Dakota's car movie player and he watched a Rock N Learn Spanish DVD.  Rock and Learn videos are awesome.  They are fun and interesting and have always been a favorite for us.  When we got back, we did The Grasshopper and the Ant fable and the paperwork that went along with it and then played a game of Yahtzee for math.  I wanted to get in a few formal pages, but I had just pushed to the end of his limits and I knew it wouldn't go well.  We had baseball this evening, but just when we were going to head out, the wind blew up and the rain started so we put on pjs instead and enjoyed a night inside.  The temperature has dropped about 20 degrees already and our outing to the fair will probably be a chilly one tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I Knew It Would Be A Challenge!

Whew!  It's Hump Day and I knew that if I made it this far, I would be exhausted.  This was that one week in September that comes every year that seems to be jam packed with activities and wears me out when I even glanced at the calendar. 

In addition to my regular life, which is always quite busy, we had many activities to do this week.  Monday morning started with a trip to the pediatrician for Dakota's 7 year check up.  He did fine, had grown well and was even a good sport about getting a treatment for a wart on his knee.  When we came home I tried to get some reasonable semblance of a homeschool day going, but that wasn't really on Dakota's "to do" list.  At 3:00 we had our friends visit while their mom went to work and at 6:00 we had a make up baseball game in Catonsville.  Tuesday morning, bright and early, we got Natalie and got all our stuff ready and headed out to the Maryland Science Center for Homeschool Days and classes.  We went in right at 10 and Koda had 30 minutes of free time to play before we went into the Davis Planetarium for the One Earth, One Sky presentation.  I think we both learned alot about the moon, sun and stars and I know Dakota found it very cool to see the pictures superimposed on the stars that make the constellations.  Natalie happily snoozed through it all.  Afterward, Dakota had a Paleo Detective class and Natalie and I browsed the gift shop and I had coffee and some Baked Lays.  Again, Natalie snoozed.  We picked Koda up at 12:20, gave him 15 more minutes to play and then headed home.  We got in 2 hours of a little down time and then took Natalie to her daddy, our Daddy to Spalding and then my little son and I had our own "hot date" to dinner and a concert, his first, at the Anne Arundel County Fairgrounds.  We had been given the tickets through freecycle and Dakota was so excited!  We had our chairs on the lawn about 20 yards from the stage and we got to hear Colt Ford do some country rap (I know, right) and then Rodney Atkins perform his popular hits and some new pieces.  We were both very tired, but we made it to the end and finally stumbled through the front door about 11:00.

And then there was today....Natalie arrived at 8 and we had to leave by 8:45.  Koda was very tired and moving slow.  Natalie was demanding food and attention and I was putting last minute touches on my Delaware class materials for co-op.  We got there on time, but our classrooms weren't open so we had to have both classes and the parents and young kids all in the hall.

Today we learned about The First State.  My 7-9 year olds had all done their projects, which were "treasure boxes" decorated with the state symbols for Delaware, and we shared them, letting the kids show off their hard work.  We talked about the geography of the state, looked at the flag and then a map.  For history, we talked about Thomas Garrett and the Underground Railroad.  My kids had no idea what that was or who Harriet Tubman was, and they were very interested to hear about the slaves and Harriet Tubman and what happened so long ago on the underground railroad, that really wasn't a railroad at all (they were pretty surprised!).  It was a great discussion and we did a cloze activity and I felt a great deal of satisfaction when we were through.  For science, we talked about ladybugs.  We read some facts, did some cloze activities and a word search and then for art, we make a ladybug using a styrofoam bowl, markers, pipe cleaners and googly eyes. 

 The kids and the class went well for me, but the acoustics were not good and the kids couldn't really hear me and I ended up losing my voice from all the shouting.  The parents were great again, though, helping without asking, and getting the room together and in tip top shape before we left.  I was so tired by the time I got home I didn't have much left and my sweet little granddaughter did only cat naps and demanded alot of attention, which is completely unusual!  Tonight I am catching up on my computer and watching Ghost Hunters.  Tomorrow is a slow day until baseball at 6pm and I am not babysitting for more than 2 or 3 hours so we should be able to have a decent homeschool day, hopefully on the deck.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remember When

Today is the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the United States.  New York, Washington, DC and Pennsylvania all took direct hits, but an entire nation will never forget the events that played out that day.  Where were you when you heard the news about the World Trade Center buildings?  What were you doing?  I will never forget that day either.  It was my first year homeschooling my oldest son, well, my only son then and he was my youngest child, eight years old.  My girls were 16 and 13, in high school and middle school respectively.  It was a normal morning and Brian was at the table doing his morning work, getting himself ready for the day.  I went outside to take out the trash and when I came in I saw the first tower in flames and the announcers were saying there had been an accident.  I wasn't afraid then, just thinking what a terrible thing to have happened.  I called my mom and we were talking about it when I happened to notice another plane in the picture on the screen.  I see it in my mind even now and it seems like it was in slow motion.  I remember saying "mom, there's another plane!" and then it hit the building and my heart froze.  This was not an accident.  Brian had come in to watch by then.  The events after that blur together a bit.  I remember my husband calling and saying he was working very close to DC and it was chaos, but he was heading home.  My oldest daughter called from school and I told her to get in her car and come home.  Now.  I don't care what the teachers say!  I headed out to the middle school to pick up my other daughter and there was a line of parents out the door and the principal was saying they were moving everyone into the gym and would release the children one at a time.  Ridiculous.  Fortunately a counselor who I knew saw me and went and got Keri right away and we went home.  When my husband got in we all sat together, watching the drama unfold, and being thankful that our friends and family were safe, while so many others were not.  You just couldn't even begin to imagine the pain they must be going through, not knowing, or knowing the worst had happened. 
Last night and this morning there was a special on MSNBC that replayed footage of that day while interviewing news anchors like Matt Lauer and Tom Brokaw.  I couldn't turn it off.  I watched it four twice last night and twice this morning.  The horror comes right back when you see the video and watch those huge buildings disintegrate before your eyes.  Always remember.  Never forget.  And pray that something like that never befalls the citizens of the United States of America ever again.