Sunday, December 30, 2012

Happy Birthday, Daddy

Today would have been my father's 84th birthday.  What I wouldn't give to be able to visit my childhood home and find him on the corner seat of the couch watching All in the Family or Star Trek and see his smile, watch his very blue eyes twinkle and give him a big hug.  He was a vibrant, fun loving man who was crazy about his daughters and his grandchildren.  He made some mistakes in his life, but he was learning from them as he got older.  He loved the fire department.  He loved bowling.  He had so many friends!  He was Lou Boeh!! and sometimes he was larger than life.  He was a good time.  He lit up a room.

Sigh.  I want to write about alot of memories I have of him.  I want them to be here for my children to see because my girls were young and I am sure some of their memories have grown fuzzy and my sons and my grnaddaughter have no memories of him to cherish at all, but I don't have the time right now to add them.  I know that I could spend hours reminiscing.  How I loved that man and how I could use a hug and the chance to snuggle up to him and be Daddy's little girl for a few minutes.. or hours!  I resolve to do that, on this eve's eve of the new year.  I will write a memoir of my dad for my children.  I will put in print my memories of the man he was.  Maybe I will even start that memoir of my own I have wanted to for years.  I have so many memories, so many things I don't want to forget.  Time....my friend and my enemy.

So Happy Birthday, Daddy.  I hope your day in heaven is full of John Wayne, Star Trek, bowling alleys and good friends who have gone on with you.  I love you so much and I hear your voice and your laugh and feel your love every single day.  I miss you.

Resolutions

I have been thinking alot about resolutions lately.  It's that time of year, but my reflection this year is much more intense than in years past.  I have had a tough year emotionally and I have learned many things about myself.  I am strong, but not as strong as I had thought.  I have found my strength depended alot on other people and that this is not a good thing.  Other people have other agendas.  Children grow up.  Spouses are independent of you and may have ideas that differ from your own.  My most important of resolutions this year is to get a little bit stronger every day so that when I need to stand on my own two feet and take care of me, myself and I, I can do it.  I love my family and I am devoted to them.  I have nurtured them for 28 years now and I am proud of who they are and who we are as a family.  This year I realized that I am not proud of some of the things that I am without them.  They look to me to be strong and independent and with them surrounding me, I am.  Without them...well, I found that I am not.  I remember how I felt as a teen when I knew that I was becoming independent of my mother and she and my father were divorced and her long term relationship with someone ended.  I felt guilty when I wanted to lead my own life and scared for her because I was moving forward and she was alone and lonely.  I don't want that for my children.  I want them to know that if something goes wrong in my life, I don't need them to hold me up.  They needn't feel guilty for living their lives and growing and moving forward.  I want them to always be there to love and support me, but I don't want my weight to be overwhelming for them.

So what else do I resolve on this eve of 2013?  I want to reduce clutter.  I want my life, my homeschooling day and my home to feel organized.  I want to conquer a "to do" list....I want to MAKE a "to do" list.  I want to parent confidently and calmly.  My little son is a great challenge.  He is sarcastic and rude...something my other children were not until they were teens and still not to the extent that he is at age eight.  I want him to understand my consequences and learn that what I say I mean without the tug of war that is so common.

I resolve to take a few classes...online, at a shop, where ever I may find them.  I want to learn how to make a good web page for an idea I have on homeschool curriculum.  I want to blog, daily.  I want to journal, daily.  I love blogging, but I need a place to journal privately where I can write down my innermost thoughts without fear of reproach from my family or friends.  Writing soothes my soul.

I resolve to read more.  More than magazines!  I miss reading novels.  I will NOT feel guilty about calling a personal "time out" in the evening a few times a week and going to bed early with a novel (and locking the door).  I resolve to coupon more and get plenty of freebies.  It's a great help to the budget and it's something I truly enjoy.  I love a good bargain and it's satisfying to me to get a good deal.

I want to get healthy....in mind and in body.  My health is good, but I am lax in going to the doctor and very bad about routine tests I should be having done to screen out problems.  I will schedule them and I will go.  I will lose weight by eating healthier.  I want to make good meal choices and good snack choices.  I haven't really mapped out my route yet, but I am thinking about it.  I am not going to make any hard and fast rules that I know I won't follow.  I just want to include more fresh food, less processed.  I want to make different meals for my family and get my recipes into some sort of organized and useable form.  I want to be proud of myself when I look in the mirror for a myriad of ways.

There are more.  My family is waiting on brunch and my Sunday is waiting for me.  I will add to these resolutions as I think of them.  It's important to me to see them here in writing so I can come back to them and remember why I wanted to make them.

So I will enjoy my last two days of 2012, but I won't be sorry to see the year end.  It was not a good one for me.  I am looking forward to an awesome 2013.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Two Weeks Before Christmas

Twas two weeks before Christmas and all through the house not a present was wrapped up, barely one in the house.  The stockings are stuffed in the box in the hall, but the decorations they do hang up high on the wall.  The granddaughter has pushed every button around to get all the animatronics to make a loud sound.  And I in my pjs and dad in his jeans, are hoping to hurry and fulfill everyone's dreams.  With wrestling on Wednesday and basketball too, the shopping has waited and now it's a zoo! But when Christmas Eve comes and Santa drops by, I am sure that everyone will take a deep sigh. The presents will be tucked safely under the tree, I will head to my bed....Merry Christmas to me!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Another Rainy Monday

We woke up this morning to another dreary, gray day so getting started was slow.  We finally got motivated to do morning work around 10am and then watched a Netflix video on dinosaurs while Dakota had some imagination time with his dinosaurs on the floor.  That's not something that happens much anymore now that he is older, so it was nice to see.  Afterward, he got to do a Dino Dig kit that I had gotten at the store.  It doesn't seem to matter what company I get these from, they are always harder than they look and the darned dinosaur bones are minute....putting them together in "puzzle fashion" tomorrow will be great fun...

After lunch we read/sang Christmas songs that we had books for and then read a review book on ancient Egyptians. We will be moving on to mummies and pyramids tomorrow and hoping to pick up the pace before the holiday arrives on this unit.  Some math, spelling and a Christmas Across the USA unit later, we were both done.  I am so ready for the holiday break and I know that Dakota is too.  We are ready for a break of all sorts!  I am hoping that the sun comes out tomorrow and gives us both a boost of energy so we can have a productive day.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Low on Motivation

Today is a dreary, cold, rainy Friday and Dakota and I are just not feeling alot of schoolwork.  I am right there with him in the "I'm tired and feeling lazy" vibe so currently he is reading his Magic School Bus Dinosaur Detective chapter book and I am on the computer.  He has only painted a wreath and watched a Magic School Bus holiday video so far. Natalie just went down for her "long winter's nap" lol.  It's blessedly quiet save the thrum of the dishwasher going in the background.

Yesterday we got in alot of work.  He did all his morning prep work, we made a dino fossil out of plaster of paris from his MSB kit and read about Tyrannosaurus Rex.  We worked on a dino packet and some history worksheets, got in some math, wrote a letter to Santa, read a Christmas book and some other things.  I think today I am going to be a couch potato with him and start the weekend early.  Our house is decorated inside with lots of fiber optic trees and snowmen, Winnie the Pooh waving the same candle that he has for sixteen Christmases past and various knicknacks, wall hangings, bells and mistletoe.  I think I will light a few candles, make an early lunch, pop some brownies in the oven to celebrate tomorrow's National Brownie Day and pretend to be exhausted from the hard work I put in :-)  Now we will just wait for Brian David and Daddy to come home and live happily every after.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Schooling With Friends

Monday was the start of a fun new group learning experience for Dakota.  Sometimes it gets a little lonely being an only child homeschooling so we have invited a family with four kids, 8, 7, 5 and 4 and a little one, the same as Natalie to come over on Monday afternoons and work with us.  Yesterday we worked hard in the morning to get our Magic School Bus dinosaur science unit started doing a sequencing activity about fossilization,got our math and reading in, so we could be ready for an afternoon of history learning following the Story of the World, Volume 1, the first few chapters.

Our friends arrived at 12:30 and we got right down to learning.  We started with a group discussion about the Egyptians and the Nile, talking about the nomads, the fertile crescent and the story of King Menes.  Then we read Chapter 3 about hieroglyphs and cuneiforms and used another book to learn about Rosetta Stone.  I gave each of the kids a piece of tagboard that I had cut to look like a tablet and they wrote their name using our alphabet and then used hieroglyphs to write their names on the "stone". Then we did a quick paper craft for an alligator to use in our next project.
When we were finished at the table, we moved into the kitchen where I had a long piece of butcher paper divided into sections and each child made a section of the Nile River on their part of the paper.  Then they added some green crops, an Egyptian barge, their alligators and used a ruler to draw a pyramid.  Then the used a glue stick to make the inside of their pyramid sticky, took their section of the paper onto the deck and used sand to make the pyramid more realistic.  We left them on the deck to dry, cleaned up and then the kids got to go play together on the trampoline in the indian summer afternoon.

All in all, I think it was a successful experience for both families.  Both moms were tired,, but all the kids used up alot of energy and they learned alot about ancient Egypt.  I am looking forward to next Monday's adventure and I know Dakota is too.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Home Stretch

Back to school today to start the home stretch for the year 2012.  We have eighteen more school days until Christmas break and we are both excited!  Today got off to a slow start, as Mondays after a holiday week tend to do, but after dodging a mysterious rash that appeared on Dakota and handling a few dozen phone calls, I was able to get him started on his morning work.  His Today's Special was on Charles Schulz, who's birthday would have been today.  We read a short kid-friendly biography, looked at some Peanuts comic strips and colored a picture of Charlie Brown and Snoopy.  Next in his daily prep work was Monday's new movie on BrainPop Jr., which just happened to be about fossils, right on time with our dinosaur unit we are doing this week!  Next came his language arts warm up book, his journal and his handwriting practice.

While Dakota worked I stripped his bed to make sure nothing was hiding in there to bite him and cause this rash and started a pot of beef and vegetable soup for when my husband comes home for lunch.  It's cold outside and we are both on a diet so this will be filling, nutritious and not terribly fattening. Dakota and I did his Christmas Around the States for the day....Massachusetts. We listened to the Boston Pops play a Christmas song, looked at some Boston sights decorated for the holiday and read the story of Make Way For Ducklings.  Then, while Dakota colored the special items to add to our display and did the mapping activity, we put in the disc of pictures from our own trip to Boston when Dakota was about 2 1/2 and he got to see the real island that the little ducks lived on and see himself posing with the duck statues in Boston Common.  Too Cool!

After lunch we did spelling and math and did a KWL chart to go along with our Four More Years Scholastic News magazine before calling it an early day because I had to take field trip checks to the bank.  With the PE and music from the weekend and the Social Studies learning about Charles Schultz this morning we ended up covering all the major subjects except for Science and History, so we'll focus on them tomorrow. We got our errands run and even had a little time to spend outside letting off some energy.  It's supposed to be snowy/rainy/slushy tomorrow so we at least got to enjoy a little sunshine and relatively mild temperatures.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Starry Night

Yesterday we did a little school work in the morning, finished up the chores and packed up the truck.  At noon Daddy, Dakota and I headed off to swimming and by 1:30 we were on our way to pick up Brian David in Towson and head to Jellystone in Hagerstown for our cabin camping weekend.  We got here about 4:30 and the guys unloaded while I put things away, then they made a fire while I made dinner.  After spaghetti in the cabin, we sat around the campfire and took in the stars.  They were truly gorgeous.  The sky was incredibly clear and it was brisk outside.  There was no wind and the inky blackness was a beautiful background to the stars, which were so bright they seemed unreal.  The brightest ones looked painted in the sky and then if you kept looking you could see the really distant clusters, pinpoints of light unimaginably far away.  We watched for falling stars because there are supposed to be meteor showers this weekend, but weren't fortunate enough to see any.  Brian David set his alarm for 4am and when it went off, I was the only one who got up.  I put in my contacts and put on my coat and went outside and the view was breathtaking.  I just don't think I will every forget it, but already, sitting here as the sun comes up, I know I also will never be able to remember just how gorgeous they were.  When I looked northeast the Big Dipper was there, seeming to take up the entire sky.  Dakota is always trying to find that so I went in and woke him, put on his fuzzy jacket and took him outside.  I am so glad I did.  He was amazed!  It didn't take him long to want to go back in where the electric fireplace was keeping things warm and cozy, but I stayed awhile, taking it all in.  When my husband got up at 5:15 to go in to work for a few hours he and I stood together and watched for a bit.  God sure was working overtime!  Today I am thankful for a starry night's sky and a memory I hope I can hang onto forever.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Last full day before Thanksgiving!

Today was to be our last full day of lessons before we move on to half days and holidays this November.  I was running behind in my morning chores and preparation so I told Dakota to "be creative", something he is very proud to be!  He got his camera and some of his wrestling men, put on some wrestling themed music and made a slide show and video of a wrestling match.  This may not seem particularly educational, but it is surely creative and the video making and music add ins certainly qualify for creative credit for the day.

I got Dakota started with his daily prep work about 10:45, which gives me an additional 30 to 45 minutes to get things done while he works on charts, language arts activities, a BrainPop Jr. video of the week, his journal and cursive handwriting practice.  I love this time when he is independent of me, but working hard and getting himself in the right frame of mind for the day.  Next we did math, which I find is a tension filled time lately because my lazy boy is doing harder math and, while he CAN do it, he hates that all of a sudden he really has to concentrate and focus on this.  He then moved on to reading two chapters of his Ninjago book and then came back after lunch we did our third Christmas Across the USA state, which was Maine.  These are simple, but he loves them and I add the geography/mapping page on to each to make it a little bit meatier for his curriculum.  We wrapped up the day by combining what he's been learning in religion at Sunday School and our ancient Egypt topic in history by watching Prince of Egypt, or at least part of it until I froze it by accident and couldn't get it going again.  Tonight I need to finish packing for our trip tomorrow and run to Walmart or ShopRite to grab a few things we are going to need.  I am really looking forward to camping with my three guys.  Can't decide if we should take the dogs or not.....It would be fun there, but the truck ride up might be a little chaotic!  Nope, already changed my mind :-)


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Another Monday

Like everyone else, Mondays in my life come way too soon.  This one was no exception and getting little sleep last night didn't help.  I decided to start the day off by going to the thrift store for their 50% off sale.  I love to look for good finds at the thrift store!  The crowd was large, the shelves almost bare and the line long, however.  After we left there, Natalie and Dakota and I went to the Arbutus library to replenish our supply of books and educational videos.  Then we met with Daddy/Poppy, for lunch at Sorrentos before hitting the Landowne library on the way home to pick up my holds.  Once here, we only had half a day left, but we watched a great Reading Rainbow on mummies based on a book by Aliki and it really held Koda's attention, with a few "wow!" remarks thrown in!  Then we moved on to our first Christmas Across the USA unit, starting with Connecticut, with a little embelishment.  We used the clue under our countdown to Christmas snow globe for the day to find the state and then read the paper and went online to watch the video of their festival of lights.  He colored a reindeer and decked him out for the holidays with collar, bell and scarf, colored his penguin.  We did the state stamp and put it in our "suitcase", made our small state card, colored our penguin to start our tree of penguins, colored our first light bulb for our string of state Christmas lights and then did a geography map/quiz paper from www.enchantedlearning.com.  Dakota loved it!  I love how it's going to grow and we are going to have a whole display by the end of the holidays!

We wrapped up our day with some reading from Dakota and another Berenstain Bear book, Prize Pumpkin and he wrote a book report on that and illustrated.  We had our oldest daughter and granddaughter stay for dinner so there was plenty of activity until around 7pm and then we settled down quickly, each of us still struggling with daylight savings time and the lingering jet lag effect it seems to have on everyone.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Ancient Egypt

Today we really started delving into our ancient Egypt study.  We are supposed to be following Story of the World, Volume 1 and I love the program, but we got off to a bad start with all the personal and family issues we had this school year early on and rather than stress about it, I shoved it aside and just got back into it recently.  SOTW kind of zooms past this part, but I found there is so much to learn and tons of great crafts and fun activities to do that we are going to slow down, have fun and really enjoy it.

Today we reviewed our SOTW story about the Nile River then did a short mapping activity that they presented.  Then I used www.enchantedlearning.com to pull up a "follow the directions" map on Egypt that was more comprehensive and Dakota did that.  We read a story about the two kings and Upper and Lower Egypt and how King Menes won the battle and combined the colors of the two crowns to make one united country.  We followed up by starting our new Magic Tree House book, Mummies in the Morning, and doing the comprehension and vocabulary activities, this time from my second favorite lesson website, www.edhelper.com.  Both of the above linked sites cost $20 a year, but I will tell you again that they are worth every penny and I have been a subscriber for twelve years!  I use them several times a week!

Another site that I have become a huge fan of is www.enchantedhoomeschoolingmom.net.  Jill, who blogs and runs this website, is fantastic and has many fun and educational packets and activities that we have incorporated into our homeschooling experience.  Today we printed out, in black and white, her countdown to Christmas snow globes and spent time together coloring them in.  We are going to use them with her Countdown to Christmas USA unit, which is on her members only board ($15 for a lifetime membership!).  There are fun activities and educational activities galore in this unit and I surprised Dakota when I showed him the Maryland unit...featuring the Baublitz Bunch!  Jill had taken requests for someone in each state to write in about the traditions in their family and we were picked so there is a favorite picture of Dakota (at around 4, but sooo darned cute!) and another of Natalie last year, her first Christmas.  I can't wait to start the fun state activities and Dakota always loves learning about the states in any form.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Co-op Wednesday

Wednesdays are co-op days at our house.  This is the second year for my own personal AAHE Cooperative and I am so proud of the way it has turned out.  Last year we did Fifty Nifty United States.  This year we are doing Artists and Composers.  Each week a two moms have teaching duties.  We have two age groups of 12 kids each for these topics....the older class is age 8 to 10 and the younger class is age 5 to 7.  From 9:25 until 10:25 the older kids learn about an artist and the younger class learns about a composer.  At 10:25 we have a 5 minute switch and break and the teacher moves to the other class and repeats her lesson, tweaked to be age appropriate.  Today the kids learned about Mary Cassatt with Wendy T. and they did Tempera Monoprints.  http://homeschoolblogger.com/melissal89/506477/   Wendy read the kids a book then they started the project, allowing the kids who weren't having a turn with the art materials to draw on their own.  They turned out great!  For music, Leslie L. taught the kids about Beethoven.  They learned all about his life, listened to his 5th symphony, making tally marks for the times they heard the part of the music that they all recognized and made ear trumpets to help them hear things like Beethoven had to do.  It was another fun day for the kids and the parents all pitched in, as usual, for set up and clean up.  Parents of the younger kids have formed together to make a preschool class and another mom who specializes in Handwriting Without Tears also teaches a short class to the young ones.  It's a perfect group of a people coming together to make a perfect co-op and for this, I am very grateful!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day

Life has been anything but normal for us here at our house throughout October, but we have weathered the storm and are coming through on the other side.  I am getting back to my normal routine and that includes our daily, or close to daily, homeschool/family life blog.  I have missed it!  Hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it.  Leave a comment or two now and then.  They really make my day!  Cindy

Yesterday and today I had hoped to get a full, focused day of homeschooling in since I didn't have my granddaughter, but I forgot that if my daughter is off work, that means the neighbor kids are off too!  Dakota was willing to give me a half day of focus both days, but by lunchtime he really wanted to be free to go outside and play, and I couldn't blame him.  Both days, however, we got a great deal done in three hours.  It makes me think that we may start to do all our "important" things in the morning and start saving the afternoons for videos, arts and crafts or science experiments.

Today we did a quick "daily prep", minus the journal.  That includes a folder with a few charts and an activity, cursive practice, a small language arts activity and usually a "Today's Special", but our special today was the election.  We worked the regular spelling and math, finished our www.Schoolexpress.com Volcanoes packet, finished reading our Magic Tree House book Vacation Under the Volcano and did the story map activities that went along with that.  We didn't get to our Story of the World history, but we read a Scholastic News magazine for Social Studies that gave lots of interesting information about Obama and Romney, including what they were doing as a child about Dakota's age.  We made a cute election craft that included a paragraph on what a good president should do (in the eyes of an eight year old) and then were ready at noon to go to the firehouse a few streets over to cast our vote.  There wasn't a line and Dakota was able to go right up with me and see what it is like to be an American, living in a democracy.  We had a good conversation about why I voted for who I did and why I didn't vote for the other candidate.

He's out playing now on this sunny, crisp fall day, but later tonight we will go over the information on the Washington Post site (http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/kidspost/2012-election-night-coloring-in-the-electoral-college-map/2012/11/01/2f128b1c-170d-11e2-9855-71f2b202721b_story.html) that has a wonderful electoral college map and tally prnitouts and we will follow the results until bedtime, picking up in the morning to see who will be our next president.  I know that he is young, but I hope that he walks away with a better understanding of how our country chooses our elected officials and has more of an interest about the choices being made by the man who will be responsible for running our country until Dakota is almost a teenager.  Wow, that's a scary thought!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Keeping the Faith

Recently events have happened in my life that have rocked my world.  I have questioned my faith, my heart, my senses.  I have felt more emotional pain than I have had to bear in a very long time and I have had to pull myself up, wipe away my tears and carry on because there are people out there who need me.  My family has been strong for me.  This is something I wasn't sure would happen.  When you care for others constantly they often seem to take it for granted and you wonder when the chips are down, will they really be there for you?  I have found out that all four of my children are forces to be reckoned with and are standing firmly by my side, carrying me through.  I have found that some relatives are loyal and true, while others are not so much.  I have found that friends can be a huge blessing, but some can also be a disappointment, failing to be there when you thought they would.

I have learned alot about myself in the last few days.  I have had to look deep into my soul and see my shortcomings.  I have had to except responsibility for my actions or lack thereof.  I have had to realize that, while I am experiencing pain, I have unintentionally inflicted it, as well.  I have been pointing my fingers out when some of them should have been pointing back at me.

I have also dared to gaze into the future, a time when I have righted wrongs and worked hard at things that have needed work for so long.  I have glimpsed something wonderful that is possible. I can only pray that the future will hold all the things I so desire.

Now, as I take it one day at a time, the pain is still fresh and my heart is almost unbearably heavy.  I know that I am strong, but I know that I also gather strength from those I love.  When that strength is pulled away, I am only a part of what I am as a whole.

I am trying to draw on my faith, but faith isn't something you can buy or just wish for.  You have to feel it in your heart and soul.  I am trying to trust in God and put my troubles in his hands because I cannot possibly carry my burden alone, but it's hard.  I know he is there for me, waiting for me to just ask so that he can lighten my load.  And I will try.  I pray for guidance and that each day will see a step forward toward a bright and promising future.  


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Bustling into October

This week we found ourselves into the month of October and, while I feel we are "behind" in our studies as far as where I had hoped to be at this point, Dakota and I are not feeling stressed or burned out during our school hours and that's a positive thing.  We had to do some cramming to get in Monday's work after having to drop Brian David off at college in the morning, but Tuesday we enjoyed a lazy day at home, using this week to finish up our Space unit, making a poster and a mobile of the planets.  Dakota finished his Magic Tree House book and today started independently reading Magic School Bus Space Explorers and filling out a book report form along with it.  We read under the blankets for awhile and my heart warmed me more than the blanket when Dakota said he hoped we would spend alot of time reading under the covers this winter.

Nothing else stands out in my mind as noteworthy, but we did have a good day.  Today was our co-op meeting and it was my turn to teach.  I taught the kids about Katsushika Hokusai, a 1700's artist who specialized in block printing and calligraphy.  The kids practiced their Chinese characters and then we used styrofoam squares and ink pens to gauge our a Chinese character into the square.  We lightly painted over the top and then stamped it onto the paper.  I was surprised at how much the kids enjoyed it, both the 8-11 group and the 5-7 group.  They did well with the skills and made many stamps on their papers and I thoroughly enjoyed myself as their instructor.

And as more proof that Dakota is growing up, I had to drop him off at home with my daughter as soon as co-op was over to go to a doctor's appointment and I had left the Space Explorers book and report and a www.schoolexpress.com packet on Autumn for him to do and when I returned a short time later, they were finished and he was working on creating his own comic book!  Wow!  What a difference a year makes!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Oriole Magic!

Our Baltimore Orioles have been a laughingstock around here for many years.  Back in the day, when Ken Singleton, Rick Dempsey and the boys from 33rd were together and we won the World Series in 1983, things were different.  Buy for the last fifteen years, Oriole wins have been few and far between.  This year, however, things have changed! The O's are back and in rare form!! Around here we like to say that the reason behind this miracle season is that our son is now working for them, but we know that this is just luck.  I guess all these wins can be attributed to some luck, but these young men and their trusty leader are taking the baseball world by storm and Baltimore is sitting up and taking notice.  There is Oriole Magic in the air.  People are wearing their black and orange.  The stadium is selling out and everywhere you go someone is asking "How 'bout them O's" :-)

Today was our last regular season home game.  My older son had to work the game and my husband, younger son and I got tickets and went too.  There was a chance that the Orioles could clinch a playoff spot and we all wanted to be there to see it happen.  The boys of summer didn't disappoint!  My favorite, Chris Davis, sent one out of the Yard.  There were hits and stolen bases and six runs total.  All the while we were watching the game we were watching the scoreboard too.  If the Angels lost to Texas and we won our game we would be in the playoffs and we would all be right here to celebrate together!!

Long story short, we won our game 6-3.  Everyone's excitement was tempered, however, because the Angels were losing 4-3 and it was the top of the ninth inning in Arlington.  The O's put the Angels/Rangers game on the big screen and the team huddled together on the field, the tarp crew huddled together on the warning track and the fans stood in the stands and watched and waited.  One out.  Hooray!!!   A tense second out...Woo Hoo!  Everyone held their breath.  You could feel the tension in the air.  One more out.  My husband wanted to bad to share this moment of joy with his sons.  I wanted this for all of us, for all the O's fans who had waited so long.....for all the fans in the stands....for all the young players on the field and the veteran, Jim Thome, who has contributed so much....but most of all, I wanted it for my husband and my sons.  I know how long they have waited and I want it for them!!

So.....one more out.....thousands of fans in black and orange are holding their breath....the team and the crew are poised to celebrate....and the darned batter got a hit and scored three runs.  Son of a biscuit eater!!  How could he???   Didn't he know we were soooo ready?

So we all came home...our chances still alive for the playoffs, but our chance to be a part of it when it happened had disappeared.  What a shame.  But I know that we will always remember that day and I hope that the O's are going to give us alot more to cheer about in the coming months.  Orioles magic fills the air and I am so glad we are going along for the ride!!

O-R-I-O-L-E-S!  Magic, Magic, Magic.  Orioles magic, feel it happen!!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Going with the Flow

Today has been a beautiful Monday.  The weather is cool, actually pretty crisp, and it's sunny and glorious outside.  I had done my planning last night and had lots to do in my book today.  We got started almost on time, but the day ended up winding and twisting like a dirt road in the country, peaceful and tranquil and full of beautiful visions along the way.

Dakota started his morning work and enjoyed his independence.  This is such a pleasant change from the reluctant student who I had to beg to start every morning last year.  He does his journal, a language arts starter book, a page of cursive, a weather/temperature chart, watches the BrainPopJr app of the week on Monday and checks his Today's Special board for whatever is there for the day.  Today it was The First Day of Autumn, which occurred over the weekend. When he was through, we took our Awesome Autumn book out to the deck and sat on the swing to read it, finding out why the leaves are turning colors and talking about all the cool things fall brings.  We decided leaf rubbings were in order, so Dakota went into the yard and collected some that were still green and others that were in the process of changing or already had changed and we taped them down, covered them up and peeled our crayons.  Two nice leaf rubbings later, we took our works of art down to Daddy's office so he could laminate them for later.

The second half of our morning was spent learning about our own history in preparation for the start of our Story of the World, Volume 1 unit, to begin next week.  We have a sponge painted tree waiting to be finished, but today we wrote out a family tree, discussing Sr. and Jr., stepfamilies, relationships with aunts, uncles, cousins.  Then we pulled out the old pictures I spent time going through yesterday and he got to see pictures of lots of aunts and uncles he rarely sees and best yet, pictures of his three grandfathers whom he had never met because they all passed away before he was born.  He had alot of questions and it turned out to be a very interesting topic!

After lunch, when Natalie was also awake, we went out on the deck to finish our math and language arts and to start our unit on the moon for this week's science.  I am proud of myself that I am not stressing too much over being "behind" on history and science.  This isn't where I had originally wanted to be at this point in the month, but it's been a nice September so far, Dakota is enjoying school and I don't feel burned out.  That's a remarkable feat for me, as I am usually overdone by now and I have a stressed out kid.  I AM improving!

Now for a quiet night with some work and some TV.  I found a new, easy recipe for dinner and it's in the oven cooking now while I decompress and wait for my husband to get home.  Yes, a very ice Monday, indeed!



Thursday, September 20, 2012

Happy Anniversary!

Twenty one years ago today I married my husband, my knight in shining armor.  He swept me off my feet, making sure there was room on his trusty steed for two very sweet little girls who thought he was a hero.  Down the road a way he had to attach a wagon to that steed to fit in two little boys, who also waited for him to ride in and save the day (by taking them to some fun place and playing catch ;-)

Today, that knight is a little more gray (okay, alot more gray!) and this fair princess is more "fluffy" and "jiggly" than she used to be and those two little girls are grown women..  One of those little boys is darned near a grown man.  He is still playing catch with the littlest boy, who is definitely a knight in training!  Sir Brian is not only a Daddy Knight now, but a Poppy Knight and there is a new little girl with stars in her eyes when she looks at him.

Brian, I know there have been some tough times.  I also know there have been some wonderful times.  That's life.  We have weathered many storms to find a rainbow at the end.  We have made a family and a home, gone through births, deaths, better, worse, sickness and health.  We made a promise all those years ago and it's one I hope we are still keeping twenty one years from now....and twenty one years from then!  Thank you for taking today off to whisk me away to Annapolis.  We don't take enough time to just be a couple and enjoy each other.  We are busy....so very busy, but we have to always remember to nurture our relationship because when it's good, it's very, very good.  I love you with all my heart.  Thank you for taking this journey with me.  Remember always.....

                                                        Grow old with me....the best is yet to be.

                                                   Tomorrow promises to be a beautiful day!
                                                        I love you.  Happy Anniversary!


Wonderful Wednesday

Wednesday dawned bright and beautiful after a wet Tuesday.  We had a rough morning getting out of the house early and organized, but we made it and got to the church for the new year of our AAHE Cooperative just in time to open up and welcome everyone back.  It was so nice to catch up with old friends and get to know some new ones.  Our theme this year is Artists and Composers.  The teacher for the artist, Michelangelo, did a fun activity where the kids got to lay under their chairs and paint on the "ceiling".  They loved it and thought this was very cool.  The teacher for music did an introduction to instruments, letting the kids listen to different musical selections, showing them different instruments and then letting them have fun watching a Looney Tunes cartoon about the orchestra.  This was a very big hit!

After co-op we met a friend and her daughters for lunch at McDonalds and then we all met another friend at the Airport Park to watch the planes come in and chat while the kids played on the playground.  We left there, picked up Keri and Natalie from my house, dropped off Dakota with Dad, who would take him to MomMom's and then met Kris at Walmart to do a group grocery shopping trip.  I am really enjoying this new era in my daughters' relationship where we can actually all do things together and enjoy each other's company.  They have not gotten along well since they were in elementary school and now there is a new found respect for each other and, gasp, they are acting like adults.  We spent a very long time in Walmart, headed over to BJs for some dinner and more shopping and then Keri and I picked up Dakota and headed home to drag all the groceries into the house.  By that time I was exhausted, but satisfied.  It was a great day with wonderful women, great kids and fabulous weather.  I'll take one of those any time!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Rainy Tuesday

Today was a rainy Tuesday here in Maryland.  We were supposed to go back to the Science Center, but staying at home had much more appeal.  I made it a fun day by letting Dakota stay in his pjs, reading under the blankets, watching a video on his health book instead of reading it and making chocolate chip cookies.  It was National Playdoh Day so at lunch time I set up his table in his room with a big sheet underneath, broke out all the playdoh tools and let him create for over an hour.  We did a floor puzzle on the solar system, painted a family tree using sponge painting for our history project coming up at the end of the week and really minimized all of the mundane tasks that we have to get in most days.  As always, there morning went much better than the afternoon, but we muddled through the laziness and  lack of focus that afternoons often bring.

This evening everything was cancelled due to impending bad weather so we enjoyed a rare fall dinner with daddy and watched the Lorax together.  Tomorrow promises to be much, much different, with our co-op starting back up, a lunch playdate and grocery shopping, but for today, at least, we enjoyed our homeschooling perks on a very wet and windy day, warm and cozy with no where we had to go.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Delaware Adventure

On Thursday after school we packed up our things, loaded the truck and went over to Spalding to drop Brian off at his football practice (where he is the Asst. Head Coach and Defensive Coordinator).  While we waited we had dinner at Friendly's with MomMom, filling up some time.  Around 7, Brian called, we picked him up and off we went for our Delaware Adventure.  Spalding's football team was playing a game in Lewes, DE on Friday night so we decided, as we often do, to make a mini vacation out of it.  We got in to our hotel, which, unfortunately, was nothing to write home about, around 9:45, got our stuff inside and went right to bed.  On Friday morning we were up early, had a continental breakfast at the hotel and headed to Rehoboth Beach. It's a small, quaint little beach community with a beautiful and peaceful beach and a small boardwalk with some restaurants, some typical souvenier shops and a few old standbys like Candy Kitchen and Dolles.  We spread our blanket and I spent the next few hours taking pictures as Dakota frolicked in the water and he and his dad built a sand fort.  We left our blanket where it was and headed up to check out the boardwalk and found a nice little restaurant along one of the side streets to have lunch.  They had delicious food and we were the only customers and we had fun together as we ate.  Afterward we got huge, messy ice cream cones and then made our way back to the beach.  Another hour or so later, we were ready to leave and went back to the hotel, where the guys got in the pool for a bit and then Dakota and I took a walk through the Cracker Barrel gift shop and I could have spent hundreds of dollars on all the gorgeous fall and winter holiday items they had out.  The smells were wonderful and they had old "vintage" candies that I showed to Dakota and wonderful smelling candles, even sweet potato syrup and pancake mix!  That's a new one for me!

After our visit to Cracker Barrel it was time to drop Brian off at Cape Henlopen to get ready for his game with his team, but Dakota and I took an extra half hour to drop by the Lewes Ferry station and got to watch a ferry pull in.  The game was a good one, although I was completely exhausted by the time we wrapped up after 10pm.  A quick dinner I was too tired to enjoy and then I don't even remember getting into the bed. Slept like a rock!

Saturday morning saw us up early and heading home to make Towson's first football game and to get to see Brian David and his girl and his roommate all done up in the TU gear.  Brian David has waited his whole life to be part of the college football atmosphere as a student and I was so pleased that his time had finally arrived!  Here's a jumble of pictures of all or fun adventures:



















Hurray! I can post again!

I have been trying for the past week to post and I couldn't get the site to cooperate.  I couldn't type in the boxes at all and it was frustrating, especially since my life just now changes as the wind blows, good and bad, hectic and calm, tumultuous and harmonious.

On Tuesday of last week we had our first homeschool day at the Maryland Science Center.  I took my daughter, Keri, with us so there would be a set of hands available for both young ones.  Keri and Dakota went into the planetarium together and I knew that Dakota was really going to enjoy it this time, because we have been studying the stars and he has been very "into" how they form and learning about the constellations.  Natalie and I went upstairs to the Kids Room and spent a good bit of time in the Toddler Room, where it is blocked in and all the young moms are sitting on the floor, most of them chasing a toddler and pregnant with another, chatting about things young mothers chat about.  I felt wistful in a way to know that this part of my life was over.  I so enjoyed it.  But here I was with my willful little granddaughter and she was having a great time.  A little later I made the mistake of taking her out to the big part and she found the large water table, but she would not, of course, wear the smock to stay dry.  This did not go well and did not last long and I had to haul her out and bring her back to the toddler room, where she promptly threw herself on the floor and had a tantrum.  I watched calmly, having been there and done that many, many times, and when I thought she had gotten it together I redirected her to the toys and kids.  Her mood was foul, however, and she was mean and nasty to the others, so we had to make our departure.  When we met up with Keri and Dakota we decided to switch kids and I took Dakota back up to the Kids Room.  I pointed out that the sign on the door said "Ages 0 to 8" and that this was his last year there.  MISTAKE on my part.  He was crushed.  We were in front of the submarine that he loves so much and he just sat next to me, lip trembling, tears welling up in his eyes, and said he was just too big.  I convinced him that he could go in, but when he did, he kept bumping his head on the ceiling and all the other kids were little.  He hung his head and said it was time to go.  My poor little guy is growing up :-(

Tuesday night we kept Natalie so her mommy could go to the Orioles game.  She went with Dakota and I to his baseball game and she was pretty good, watching her "aaah pooooood" and walking around saying hello to all the people.  Dakota played very well again.  He is in control of his body now like never before and he's enjoying the new found coordination and skill level.  I very hesitantly agreed to let her stay the night since her mom wasn't getting home til 11pm and she had to be back here by 8am, but in the past, little miss Natalie has never done sleeping here at night.  This night, however, she was an angel, not waking once.  I am very pleased with that because I would like to give her mom a break sometime, but sleep isn't something I do very well without anymore.  Must be getting old!!









Monday, September 10, 2012

Fall Homeschooling

I am a fall kind of person and nothing is better than a crisp autumn day, a nice long walk in the morning and schooling out on the deck.  Today I planned just that kind of day for my little son, granddaughter and I. We had a slow start, but after getting ready and getting a late breakfast we still decided to start our day with a long walk through the park.  The sky was an incredible blue and the temperature was just right.  We were out about an hour and then came back in to put Natalie in to nap and start our schoolwork.  We sat at the table and did our daily prep work, spelling, language arts.  We hadn't gotten to science for a few days so we spent some time reading and talking about stars to get a good understanding before we head to the planetarium tomorrow for our first Homeschool Day class at the Maryland Science Center.  We made a constellation box and some constellation cards to go with it.  We did a demonstration of the earth going around the sun and talked about why we have the seasons and the light and dark each day.  We even found a cool app on my phone called SkyView that showed us the constellations that were above us as we pointed the phone to the sky.

We took a quick lunch break and watched a Magic School Bus video while we ate and then since Nat was awake, we all went out on the deck, taking our reading and math with us.  Dakota learned to do multiplication with carrying and then we started our third mystery, Horrible Harry and the Locked Closet.  I am so pleased that he is expanding his horizons a bit with reading.  Last year he would only listen to or read picture books or Magic Tree House books.  This year we are using September to explore mysteries and he has really enjoyed them.  I have tried to keep them fairly simple and tried to appeal to the things that interest him like baseball and, in the case of Horrible Harry, a boy close to his age who is amused by bathroom humor and likes things that are gross.

Tonight, after playing on the trampoline and playing some pick up football and basketball with the neighbors, Dakota got his bath, ate dinner and went into his room to "do his thing" and watch the Ravens game.  He came out several times showing me things he was doing and I was just really tickled when he came out and showed me his idea for a new book he wanted to write...a mystery :-)  He's putting it in "Dakota's Creation Book" and he you can see those wheels turning in his little head as he dreams up a story.  Although I felt unprepared because I hadn't time to plan all weekend and things weren't right at my fingertips, all in all I think we got alot in and had a pretty decent homeschool Monday.

Sunday Funday

If you are following me here at Cindy's Life As She Know It, you know it's been a tough stretch for me.  I am usually upbeat and positive, but I have been struggling.  Yesterday I went to church and dropped my son off at Sunday School and then attended a Bible study class with my pastor and a small group of people.  I always forget how at peace I feel when I am there.  I am not as involved as I could be there, but they are welcoming, kind and loving and I always leave feeling better than when I arrived.

After church my husband gave me money to get a new outfit for a crab feast we were going to..  I can't remember the last time we went to a function like this together and I wanted something I could feel attractive in.  I ended up finding a pair of white capris on clearance and then hit Dick's Sporting Goods for a really cute Raven's shirt.  It will serve me well through the season.  I hate wearing the boxy mens t shirts anymore.  I like the women's cut with the v-neck.  Much more attractive!

I was a little apprehensive about the day since times have been tough between my husband and I.  We desperately needed this day to relax and enjoy each other, but I was so worried things would go wrong and it would end up a disaster.  I needn't have stressed.  We had a great time.  The house we went to (hosting for a hunting club) was on Nabb's Creek and the land went on and on, ending at the water, where there were multi-leveled docks and three boats.  There were chairs positioned everywhere to sit and look over the water.  There was a tire swing.  Tents were everywhere with tables set out and a delicious spread of food and crab.  There was a full size tiki bar and the most beautiful outdoor stone and steel kitchen with pots and pots of crabs steaming away.  There were horseshoe pits, a dj playing and karaoke.  TV's had football and baseball on.  It was fantastic.  There were a few people from Spalding that my husband knew that I was introduced to and by the end of the evening I was sad to be leaving them.  There was singing and dancing, much laughter, joking and drinking.  My husband and another athletic trainer did a hysterical rendition of Paradise by the Dashboard Lights.  It was just wonderful.  The most fun I have had in a very, very long time and I was disappointed to see it end.  Best of all is that I think both my husband and I realized how much we missed time carved out for just the two of us.  We've been together 23 years and we've had alot of fun, but lately there just never seems to be time for us and our relationship was paying the price.  I am hoping that we both realize how important unwinding together is for a high energy couple like us and continue to find time for each other because I love this man with all my heart and being out with him is always fun.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Consistency

I am having trouble in my life right now for numerous reasons, but I was thinking today that one of the things that is throwing me so off balance is the lack of consistency in the most important things in my life.  I used to know what was coming next, who was here now and who would be here later.  I knew how those that I hold closest felt, both about me and about life...or so I thought.  In the last few weeks, however, I just don't know about anything.  There have been major upheavals and I'm not sure what each day will bring.  Some days my son calls home, chats openly and shares his day.  Some days he doesn't contact me at all and if I try to talk to him he mumbles and pushes me away.  Some days he's home.  Some days he isn't.  The relationship with my husband is the same way too recently.  Good.  Bad.  Hot.  Cold.  Smooth.  Bumpy.  A promising tomorrow.  An empty future.

This is all very confusing to a woman who lives her life for structure and routine.  I wake up in the morning feeling panicked because in that half awake time early in the morning I can't remember what kind of day yesterday was and what kind of day today will be.  I wonder why so much seems to be coming at me at once and I feel overwhelmed and helpless, wishing for the structure and certainty that used to fill my world.

So I cope in the only way I know how....I do what IS consistent.  I watch my granddaughter.  I school my son.  I clean my house and keep up my calendar.  Some days I feel needed and other days I feel cast aside for more important things.

I know that there are better days ahead.  I know that God only gives us as much as we can handle.  I know faith will see me through.  But today, and most of the days in the past few weeks, I wonder what I did to deserve so much piled up on my shoulders all at once.  I feel kicked when I am down.  I feel lost in my own home.  I wish things would get too some new normal that I can handle.  I am a busy woman and I have way too much that I am responsible for to be sidetracked by constant fears and heartaches.  I lean on the Serenity Prayer and I know that eventually it will get me through.




Wednesday, September 5, 2012

He's a morning kind of guy...

Dakota and I had a few personal errands to run early this morning, but we found out that it was "Be Late For Something" day so we laughed about getting to work and then headed out on our errands.  We were fashionably late to start our lessons, but still had a great morning, doing all of our language arts, math and Spanish. We are way behind in our Story of the World lessons, but it is not a big deal.  We will get through it when we get through it.  We read the middle part of our Maps and Globes book and looked at our map and globe and talked about the difference.  Then I let him paint a large blue Earth with the promise that he could paint again in the afternoon to add the continents.  I was hoping this would negate our problems.   He is so focused in the morning and we get things done in record time...but then comes lunch break...and I never really get him back.

We take an hour break at lunch and I know that I probably shouldn't give him that long because I am sure it's part of the problem, but by the time I cook his lunch then make my lunch and sit down to get myself together for the afternoon, an hour has flown by and we regroup to begin again.  I try to save some fun things for the afternoon so it's not too much sitting or writing, but it doesn't seem to matter what I save, he's scattered and antsy.  I let him finish his painting and then we did some fun science, talking about light and stars and making rainbows with cd discs.  He got to make some known constellations with shiny stars and black construction paper and then I let him loose to create his own constellations, because if this boy is anything, it's creative.  He loves to make up his own thing!

We started our second mystery for our mystery genre month.  I honestly thought he would fight me to read anything besides Magic Tree House, but he was very open to the mysteries and after last week's Nate the Great, we began Cam Jansen today, in the Mystery of the Babe Ruth Baseball.  This is a better read for him, since Nate the Great was way too easy.  We did partner reading and he was actually disappointed when I stopped after chapter 2.  He answered his comprehension questions and then we moved on to our last subject of the day.

We are doing at least a few months of Berenstain Bears units for health, talking about character building and favorable traits you need to make it in this world.  I got the unit from www.enchantedhomeschoolingmom.com/blogspot.com and it is simple, but effective if you use it correctly and include lots of discussion.  We had read our book, Trouble at School, yesterday and today we retold the story and talked about responsibility and consequences.  I felt this was a good time to introduce his new chore chart...something he has begged for all summer.  We talked about how I would not be nagging him, but would remind him once to do his chores.  If, by 8pm, they were not done, then no money would be given out at all for that day. He makes $.75 a day, which doesn't seem like much, but that's $5.25 a week and I think that's good money for an eight year old boy.  He agreed that this was fair and darned if he didn't ask if we could please read another Berenstain Bears book before we finished for the day.  Go figure!

So Day 7 is in the books.  Not the best day I have ever had, but certainly not the worst.  Things seem to be going more smoothly so far and I am hoping that we continue this trend throughout the months ahead.

Here comes September

So here we are, firmly into September, usually my all time favorite month, tied with October.  Clean slate.  New homeschool year.  Great fall colors.  Crisp temperatures (soon).  This year, however, I don't think I am liking September very much.  Anxiety, stress and depression are constantly chasing me down, but I am trying to stay one step ahead.  Schooling Dakota gives me a diversion and it was actually the best time of my day yesterday once I got myself focused and found all the materials I needed that were sitting right under my nose, right where I put them.  We didn't do anything wonderful or creative, but we did work consistently.  We didn't get it all in, but I didn't stress over that because, in the big scheme of things these days, that's little stress.  I am pleased that we have quickly fallen into a new morning pattern of doing Today's Special and then his "daily prep", which includes a daily short language arts exercise book activity, a daily/calendar packet and writing in his journal.  His math is Grade 3 and I thought it would present more of a challenge, but   math for him is more of a two minute "this is how you do it" and then he does.  Very little stumps him.  He struggled for awhile last year with the difference between the physical appearance of a picture of a quarter and a nickel, but that resolved itself.  I always feel like I should be doing more in the math department, but he seems to not really need my instruction.  It just all makes sense to him. He sure doesn't take after me!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Eight is the Magic Number

Today is Dakota's eighth birthday and on my children's birthdays, I spend alot of time reflecting on who they are now and remembering them through the years as they have grown up to this point.

I remember Dakota's birth so clearly.  I had a scheduled C-section on a Friday evening.  We went to the hospital, waited a long time and then I got prepped to go into surgery.  My mother made her way into the room before I went in, which did not make me happy.  She is too nervous, too high maintenance and does not make me feel better about anything.  My husband was distracted.  I've never really figured out why other than it was football season and the opener for his youth team was the next day, but I guess that's enough.  My three older kids were excited...ready to welcome this little brother and get their mother who had spunk and energy back!

They wheeled me in, right past the crowd of "spectators" that was my family.  Ugh.  My husband came into the room and then boom, boom, boom...out he came and back into the room I went.  That's really how I remember it.  From the time I left my room to the time I returned having given birth was, no kidding, twenty minutes.  They didn't bring him in right away, but they did let in all three kids and my husband and my mother and really anybody else who wanted to come in.  I was tired, I couldn't feel anything from my chest down and my neck hurt.  I just wanted my baby and for my kids to see him and be taken home.  Dakota was born at 6:48....they brought him into my room around 10:30, if memory serves me correctly.  I have a picture, both on paper and in my mind, of my husband and Keri and Brian David going out to get him from the nursery and wheeling him back into the room in his little plastic bed.  Both kids were looking down at him with curiosity all over their faces.  I never had a younger sibling, so I can only imagine what it must be like to have your family going along and then someone handing you a newborn and saying "here.  Love him.  He's all yours for the rest of your life".  But love him they did.  My oldest daughter took on the role of second mother right away.  All was well.

Dakota was actually my easiest c-section (I had four).  I had little pain in the incision, but alot of residual pain in my neck from the spinal.  The hospital staff left alot to be desired and there are some stories I tell about the incompetent things they did, but all in all, it was an uneventful stay for both of us and after his Friday night birth, we were allowed to leave early Monday morning.  Then life moved on.  We became a family of six.  We all took on new roles.  Dakota became a very important and very active part of all our lives.  It's been eight wonderful years since that time and I thank God on a regular basis for this gift of a last child to keep me going now that the older three are independent and grown.

Happy 8th birthday, Dakota!  Have fun!  Be good! Don't grow up too fast!  You are a funny, silly, charming, handsome, devilish little boy and I love you with all my heart.











My Wish

Two posts today, the last day before homeschooling posts really take over (although I won't say that matters of the heart and life with my older three children won't play a part).  Today it's about My Wish, the song and the reality.  Over the last two years my son Brian has endured alot of heartache.  He is someone who gives his all...whether it's in sports, academics or affairs of the heart.  He loves passionately and fully.  Those things or people who are a recipient of that love are truly blessed.

Brian's first relationship was wonderful...for a short time.  He was in love with love.  He met a girl just before going into Spalding that some friends introduced him to and they seemed well suited.  The transition into a new school was made easier because she was there and introduced him to all her friends.  As the months went by, however, she became manipulative and demanding.  He thought that was how relationships went and, being the kind soul that he is, he followed along.  Eventually though, after about nine months, he realized he was being lied to and manipulated and they broke up.  The first six months were terrible for him and for us.  He found he had no group of friends at school because all his friends were her friends.  He had to start over again.  His heart ached, he missed her, but he knew he deserved better.  It took the better part of a year for him to come full circle.  He got back to enjoying just being Brian and spending time with family and friends.  But I know he was lonely often for something that I couldn't give him.  I prayed and I wished everyday that someone would come along who would be the one for him.  Someone kind and sweet.  Someone who would appreciate the good person he was, tolerate his quirks and love him for who he was.

Move ahead two years and Brian went off to college.  He had been speaking to alot of future Towson students online, but one in particular seemed to take up more time and seemed to get more smiles from him.  I kept praying and kept wishing.  I warned him to take it slow when he moved onto campus.  Make lots of friends, join groups, get involved.  I will admit that my heart sank when just 36 hours after moving in he stated he was "in a relationship".  I was so worried that history was repeating itself.  Then there was a misunderstanding and I got a phone call from him, heartbroken that maybe he had stepped right back into the fire.  I talked to him, gave him advice, weighed the pros and cons.  He mulled it over, talked it over with this new young lady, and they set some ground rules and decided that they liked each other enough to try to make a fresh start.

The following weekend my husband had his home opener for football and Brian wanted to bring his girl to see where he had gone to school and played ball.  I invited her to stay with us for the weekend, as they had two concerts to see, as well as the game.  She was very nervous, he said, about meeting me.  He had no idea how nervous I was about meeting her.  When he brought his first girlfriend home for the first time I knew right off that it was going to end badly.  What if I felt that way again?  What if I didn't like her?  What if she was manipulating my son or taking advantage of him?  More praying.  More wishing.

Friday came and I cleaned the house, worried and worried, prayed and wished.  When I picked her up I noticed first that she was adorable and she popped into the backseat with the two little ones and was comfortable.  That was a plus.  People who are uncomfortable around children give me cause for concern.  We chatted on the way home and I was trying to gauge things.  I watched them as they hung out.  We went to dinner together.  We went to football.  ........   Guess what?  I like her!  Alot!  She is down to earth and open.  Quiet, but can hold a good conversation.  She smiles easily and participates in discussions.  And, most of all, she seems to really "get" my son.  He is sweet, and she seemed to know this already.  He is goofy, and she didn't giggle or give him a dirty look, but she smiled at him, giving him that look that said "that was goofy, but it's okay because I like you for you".  She held his hand, but didn't hang all over him.  She watched an incredibly awful football game, never complaining, when I know she didn't know a thing about what was going on.

By Sunday night we had seen each other off and on several times, but at the Rascal Flatts concert I got to really observe the two of them together.  Guess what?  I think (and I hope with all my heart) that my wish has come true.  My son is so happy and relaxed.  His girl seems happy and relaxed.  She isn't domineering, but she guides him gently when he needs it.  She doesn't make fun of him, but she laughs when he's funny.  I haven't seen my boy look that happy in a long time.  In the truck going home they were sitting next to one another singing, looking like two people with a whole lot of happiness ahead.  I cried alot of tears last night.  I still cried for the boy who left here who will never be the same innocent, boy again.  But I also cried because he has found what he has been looking for and I think it's all good.  Thank you, Megan, for being who you are.  I am, at this point and time, so grateful he has found you.  You are welcome into our home and our family life any time.  Please be kind and gentle to him.  He will treat you with so much love and respect and he deserves that in return.  He once told me you said he was too good to be true....I have something to tell you....he is.  You won't ever find anyone else with a heart so pure.  Take care of him for me while he's away, but please remember to share.  I love him more than you can ever imagine.

My wish for you is that this life becomes all that you want it to
Your dreams stay big, your worries stay small
You never have to carry more than you can hold
And while you're out there gettin' where your gettin' to
I hope you know somebody loves you
And wants the same thing too
Yeah this, is my wish

I love you, Brian David.

Friday, August 31, 2012

A Change for the Better

There have been alot of changes in my life lately that have caused me heartache and tears, not necessarily because they were bad, but because they were big..important...life altering.  As this week of new beginnings has played out, however, I have noticed a very positive change....my youngest son, Dakota.

Dakota is a wild child.  He is high energy, high maintenance, full of sass and swag.  He is adorable and has a kind, loving heart, but he is also quick to fire up an attitude, has a hot temper and can test the patience of even the most saintly people.  This week, however, I have seen a huge change.  Last week he whined and cried about school.  He didn't want it to start.  He didn't want to do work.  He wasn't going to be able to play.  Saturday his brother moved out and went off to college.  Dakota stayed with his grandmom at home because I knew it was going to be a long day. I had alot of trouble adjusting and I cried alot over the next few days.  I am not usually one to cry.  Dakota always found me, told me it was okay, gave me a hug and stood by until I got it together.  We started school on Monday and my usually reluctant learner dove right in. He worked well independently, didn't give me a hard time about any of his lessons and declared looking up words in the dictionary fun!  

Usually during any given day, there is turmoil and attitude and meltdowns about going to the neighbors house to play with the twin  boys there.  This week Dakota did ask, but not until the end of the day and when I have told him he would only have an hour because we had baseball, he came right home when he should, changed his clothes and was ready to walk out the door.

At baseball practice on Thursday there he was, looking like Joe Cool in his brother's hand me down shades, black Maryland Terrapin hat, black under armor shirt and black shorts.  He was hustling (definitely not something Dakota normally does) and there was no attitude when he missed a play.  He was throwing with force and with accuracy.  He was hitting hard and running fast.  Who was this masked man?

We've had some conversations too.  About deer, being the youngest child, relationships, family, life, space....he's asked alot of questions and was really interested in discussing the answers.  In the past he would have grown impatient if I didn't answer like he wanted me to.  Now I was having meaningful conversations with him and enjoying every minute.

I have handed out praise again and again.  I really like this new Dakota!  It's all the best things about him.  He is kind, gentle, thoughtful and hardworking.  Could it be because his brother is away at college and he knows that he is the only one left?  Could it be that it is just a natural maturation for him?  His birthday is Monday and he will be eight.  Maybe that's his golden age?  I don't know, but whatever it is, I hope it lasts.  I always love my son.  I wouldn't trade him for the world and he's a great kid.  But the fact is, he's also hard to raise.  My little hothead can wear you down!  This new Dakota, though, is a joy.  He is a pleasure to be around and I am amazed at this new personality.  I don't know if it will last another day, another week or another month, but I sure am going to enjoy it while it lasts!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Bump, Bump, Bump

So here lately there have been alot of bumps in the road that is my life.  I am having great difficulty adjusting to my older son being at college, but if anyone who knows me was listening, I've been warning you for more than a year that this was coming.  I know myself and this is one of my toughest challenges.  I thought all was going well for my son, though, until he called last night, already in over his head with girl troubles.  Oh, how I wish he would have waited to get into a relationship until after he had been there awhile.  But he didn't, and there are issues, and I am concerned that this is alot to handle for a kid who struggles with adjustment anyway and now has a new home, new classes, is going to be juggling these things with his job and now there is this relationship to navigate.  I will support him in whatever he chooses, but I so wish he would slow it down and enjoy meeting lots of new girls.

My marriage is having it's issues as well, but again, nothing new this time of year.  My husband works at a demanding job and then is an assistant head coach for a highly competitive high school football team and a head coach for a youth all star team of eighth graders for the county.  He has priorities that need to be taken care of and I exist just fine on my own, as he well knows.  The bump here is it's a tough transition for me, as well, to single parent and no companionship for months and months.

Homeschool has started this week, baby granddaughter is back full time, baseball practice has started for son #2 and there are a multitude of things on the horizon that need to be done or planned for and I am having trouble focusing on the tasks at hand.  Bump, bump, bump.  Feels like I'm taking all the back roads and it's going to be a long time before I find a smooth path.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Reminder!

Today was day 2 of our second grade homeschooling year.  It went okay in the morning, except my granddaughter decided sleep was not going to be her thing.  We doubled up on the subjects we missed yesterday afternoon since I had them planned out for the week and just decided to wait until Tuesday next week for the other subjects like Science and Health.  Dakota was cooperating well and while he was learning to look up words in the dictionary he said "I'm surprised!  I'm having fun!".  Well that was a plus!  We didn't do anything creative or wonderful...I am still reeling from this move to college by my older son and wonderful and creative have not rejoined my circle yet, but we got through, shared a few laughs and finished what was on the morning schedule right at noon.

The problems began after lunch....a return of last year's dilemma.  We take an hour lunch break.  In that time I cook lunch and feed Dakota and Natalie during the first 30 minutes and then sit down to decompress and eat my own lunch from 12:30 to 1:00.  Coming back from lunch, however, always poses a problem for Dakota who doesn't want to work again.  This has always been a struggle and today was no different.  So we struggled through the afternoon and Natalie decided that an afternoon nap wasn't in her agenda either.  I was very glad when we finally closed the books and called this homeschool day ended!

Now it's off to Dakota's first baseball practice of the fall.  I am not really looking forward to it, but it will get rid of some of his energy and maybe he will be ready to settle in when we get home.  Maybe.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Grade 2

So today my littlest son starts Grade 2!  Time sure is flying!  I always think of PreK, K and 1 as the fun grades, not worried too much about academics, although Dakota blew through his second grade curriculum last year.  To me, second grade starts the read adventure into elementary school.  You are experienced and ready.  You read well, write well and can hold a good conversation.  You have opinions and can support them.

So we started off welcoming Natalie about 7:45 and then all three of us had waffles with butter and jelly.  It is a nice morning out,, after a long day of soaking rain yesterday, so we put Nat in the pink car and the dogs on the leashes and took a twenty minute walk through the neighborhood, noticing how green the grass is after the rain, how blue the sky is and how it really still looks and feels like summer.  We will be noticing the changes in the season as we walk throughout the year.

Back inside Dakota got to go to his new morning station, Today's Special.  It has a fun or educational event of the day and then a small packet of work.  Focusing is hard this morning, but he didn't fight it, which I had anticipated. He got started right away, but it's just taking awhile.  Nat has cooperated and is down for her morning nap, hopefully sleeping until 11:00 or so we can get the "meat and potatoes" of our morning done.

One of those lessons I never seem to remember, is that things will not go exactly as planned.  We started our Back To School packet and then thought how cool it would be to so the Crayola offer to morph your photo into a cartoon to color instead of just drawing a self portrait.  So we spent 20 minutes creating a self portrait and then making a short comic strip of Dakota, aka Ryan Steele, the rock band star.  He loved it!  Guess we got our computer time and our art in for the day :-)  

So I get in touch with the library and the book I have my entire week's lesson based on was shipped 15 days ago and obviously lost.  Great.  So I call the library and they say it must be lost but another library about 10 minutes away has a copy.  So okay.  Now we are going to really be messing up our schedule, but we are going to say "what the hey" and take a lunchtime trip to the library, get that book and a few more, make it an adventure, and just cut out some of the other things we were going to do today.  Fine.  I can go with the flow.

To make a long story short, our first homeschool day turned into a half day.  We headed out, stopped by the drop off at Good Will, had lunch at Sorrentos with Dad, visited the library to get the book and then hung out there with friends, went to the bank, got gas and now we are home for 20 minutes before heading out again to pick up daughter #2 so she and I can go to the eye doctor while daughter #1 swings by to get the granddaughter and son #2.  Whew.  Surely wasn't the day I planned, but all is well.  Tomorrow is another day.