Monday, August 30, 2010

The Mind of a Mommy

Tonight's events illustrate what it's like to have the brain of a mommy.

Preheated oven.
Told boys to go to bed, but that we would have cookies for snack tomorrow.
Put cookies in oven.
Did dishes, talked to Jeff about logistics of the move, bounced baby, etc.
Wondered why on Earth the oven was on.
Turned oven off.
Some time later... wondered, "Wasn't I going to make cookies?"
Looked into oven to find barely baked cookies.
Turned on oven.
Cleaned up until Jeff convinced me to just sit and watch a movie.
Watched 20 minutes of movie.
Smelled horrible smell from kitchen.
Remembered the solid black burned to a crisp cookies.
Continue watching movie.
Interrupted twice, as each boy emerged from the upstairs to ask about horrible smell.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Attention, please.

Anyone with children has lived through the dreaded day/night swap. Usually, it happens when a baby is allowed to sleep to much during the day or is for some reason kept up at night, creating a day/night confusion in the baby and a desperately exhausting situation for the momma. This is not, however, what has happened to me. What Miss Olive is doing has less to do with sleep and more to do with her intense little personality. At first, I thought it was my milk supply. I went on a pumping and nursing marathon. But, I then realized that she wasn't unhappy. She didn't cry to eat during the day at all. This is not a growth spurt where she is nursing more often to boost my supply. She isn't nursing more often, she's just choosing to do it at night.

You see, Olive loves action. It just so happens that, in a house with three homeschooled siblings, there's a lot of action to take in. Nursing has become a boring task that's only purpose is to take her away from the fun... and she'll have none of it... during the day, at least. She has become very easily distracted while nursing (or eating solids, for that matter), and now it has gotten to the point where I cannot speak or she will break away and look up at me with a huge wide "play with me" grin. If someone walks across the room, her head bends around backwards to catch a glimpse. Heaven forbid her daddy walks in the room. Since she has developed this habit, she has been waking up at night to get in her calories. Her sleep isn't mixed up, just her eating.

Once I realized what was going on, I figured I would just tank her up during the day so that we would get back to normal. Well, you can lead a baby to milk, but you can't make her drink. At least that's what I have discovered over the last few days. I've tried putting a blanket over her, covering her eyes with my hands, going into a dark room, and even pumping and giving her a bottle. The only thing that had any success was to lay her on a boppy and give her a bottle while holding a music-playing-multicolored-blinky-light-star. She took a whopping 2 ounces this way. Beyond that, she will nurse fairly well before a nap, but definitely not when she's good and awake. Obviously, that's when the party's supposed to happen. The middle of the night is nice and boring where she can just drink away in a slumber state. Perfect.

Now, I have to figure out how to resolve this problem. Either I attach a disco ball to my chest, I figure out some way to get her full during the day, or I keep her from filling up at night. I may wear a crazy necklace while nursing (seems very Mardi Gras, no?). I may pump at night so that when she does wake up to nurse, there won't be much there yet she can be comforted back to sleep. I don't know what the solution will be, but I know I have to find it. Once babies start sleeping well at night it's hard to go back again.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Jukebox Lives

Asa nor Addison have ever spent a lot of time playing with cars or trucks. You see, to them, playing must involve creating. They have always played with blocks, Lincoln Logs, magnets, Tinker Toys, sets of chutes for marbles, and of course, Legos. At one time I was worried about their lack of "pretend" style play. Trains sets seemed to help connect their need to build with role playing. But, as far as honest to goodness pretend play, I think Addison finds it illogical. (He will spend time playing with his army men, but it's more to set up tactical positions, not to actually play with them once they're set up). Asa enjoys playing pretend games on occasion, but without a brother to join him, he'd rather spend hours on end making various machines from Legos.

I no longer worry about the need to only play by creating. They get it honestly. They get it from their daddy. You see, Jeff cannot seem to go very long at all without working on something. A long long time ago, before Jeff and I could hear the pitter patter (or stomp, stomp, BAM) or little feet, Jeff spent quite some time working on robotics. He wrote random computer programs that did various things. Way back when, he wrote a jukebox program for our mp3's... and constructed a wooden jukebox to house it in. He bought a dilapidated old house and worked on it for stress relief. You get the picture.

Years ago, this jukebox I mentioned would occasionally make an appearance at an occasional family party. It was a fun way for party-goers to choose their own songs. Then, like many things, it found its way into the mass pile of junk we call the storage room. There it sat for the last five years or so. Recently, it has been reintroduced to the world... and has found a home in the boys' room. It's not the glamorous life it once knew, but now it plays Beatles tunes for two seven year old boys. I think it is probably pretty happy to fill that role. I bet it smiled more than I did when Asa woke up at 2am to go to the bathroom and cranked up "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da Life Goes On" on his way back to bed.

The sight of Jeff's obsession-gone-by sitting in a room that is chock full of Asa and Addison's intricate projects provided a visual to how similar all of the men in my life truly are. To take it further, the jukebox is sitting in a room full of shelves and drawers and coat racks all constructed by their Granddaddy... in a room that was gutted and renovated by them both. Those Longino men are all do'ers. Each and every one of them are driven by the intense need to make and build and create. As a mom and a teacher, it is my job to foster this natural desire... and to hopefully help them develop a balance between this enthusiasm and everything else in life.

"In a couple of years they have built a home sweet home..."
We begin another chapter of our wild life as we work on renovating another old house and plan to build one from scratch. It is this drive to "do" that makes our little family tick. It is a curse at times, but it's what makes us who we are. As we prepare for the move, I have wondered aloud what sort of mental disorder we must share. Although not exactly the same, I also have a similar need to create... to work... to do. More importantly, the two of us seem to lack the ability to turn down a crazy idea.
But, "if you want some fun, take Ob-La-Di-Bla-Da."

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Flying by the seat of my plans.

It's not final yet. We don't have our t's crossed nor i's dotted. However, I'm fairly certain that changes are coming, and soon. The plan that we concocted may soon be put into effect... we are most likely moving soon. It is shocking that we would be able to work so hard on our house, take it from a dilapidated borderline shack to a very comfy super cute old house chock full of warmth and character and charm. But, I need to be close to our family. We need to be close to our family.

In the last couple weeks, my mind has been reeling with thoughts of packing and hauling loads down south. The logistics behind moving a family of six are mind boggling, but for our funny little plan, they are even harder to grasp. Most people sell their house and buy another. Some people choose to build a house instead (not usually with their own hands, mind you, as we just may do). We have a longer term plan ahead of us... requiring some patience and hard work and saving. We don't do anything the easy way, do we?

Assuming all goes according to plan, we will be moving from our house into my parents' house by the end of October. Yes, into their house. Thankfully, they are willing to let us do such a crazy thing. And, thankfully, I know that they are laid back and flexible enough to make it work. We will be staying with them while we work on fixing up another old house... this time, it's the house I grew up in... which is next door to my parents. Jeff and I have talked about moving in and fixing that house up for about ten years now. It needs it. I need to do it. I think it will be good as good for my soul as it will be for our old house. So, we will live with my parents while we work to make the "old house" livable. I am guessing that it will take six months, but I don't exactly know what needs to be done at this point. Once we can move into it, we will... and we will do what we did to our current home... renovate.

Now, Jeff and I have done renovation projects on our current home that I never imagined we could do. We've torn out ceilings, torn down walls, replumbed, rewired, pulled up floors, created a kitchen from an empty room, etc, etc. I have been on top of a garage with a nail gun and been literally dragged across the foyer by a sander. I do not doubt that we can do the work needed to make my old house super cute. However, we have made our current house so toasty in the winter and cool in the summer that it may be hard for me to go backwards. I will be going back to the days of sleeping with a pillow on my head to keep the cold wind off my face. It's only been a few years, but I quite enjoy sitting around with no need for a parka, or no need to suck down Popsicles in the nude.

Beyond my dread of discomfort, the thought of moving back into my old house is bringing up some very strong, very real emotions. I love that house. I do. However, as the innocence of elementary school came to an end, I developed a strong sense of embarrassment about it. I hated the bus. Kids are so mean, and I hated the older kids making fun of my house. My home. I went for a long time without inviting anyone over to play, except for a few great friends whom I loved and I knew would love me even if I lived in a cardboard box. In middle school, I went to Whitewater Middle, with all those rich Peachtree City kids. Needless to say, no one knew where I lived. I can still hear the words of a boy in highschool, whom I thought was my friend, referring to my house as a "slave shack". It was hard. I got an electric blanket from a friend of mine for Christmas one year. For a time, I thought I hated that house. I never really hated it. I love that house... and it needs us.

I've felt a bit of guilt over the idea of moving my kids into the same situation that I was in. Will they be made fun of? Will it hurt them like it did me? I then reminded myself that we will be making it beautiful... and that it will be good for them. I would rather my kids learn through experiences of discomfort and heartache than to grow up thinking that they have it all. If I had to chose between them being the ones embarrassed of their house or the ones calling it names on the bus, I'd take the first one. I hope mine realize that you can have it all and live in a tent on a mountain or a box under a bridge.

I have wonderful memories of my old house, too. I remember how beautiful it seemed at Christmas. I loved having the biggest closet of anyone I knew. There's no counting the number of hours that I spent playing on those concrete steps, and I love the idea of seeing my kids playing right there where I used to. Even though it isn't a huge house, there's room enough... and I always thought felt close and safe and loved. I love the fact that the clouds that Mom put up in the top of my childhood closet are still there to this day. It's a good house... and it will feel good to make it shine.

As we anticipate the move, I have talked to Asa and Addison about it. They will both miss our home very much, we all will. All I can do it explain to them that we are all sad about leaving, but you can be sad about leaving and excited about the adventure to come at the same time. I need them to understand that it's perfectly okay to be sad, as long as you can still look ahead to where we are going. I also explained to them that it's like we have a job... to find old houses that people have forgotten about and help them up and make them as beautiful as they can be. This struck a cord with them both. I told them that we saved our house, like putting a dirty old rock in a rock tumbler. It is now pretty and wonderful and someone can love it and take care of it. But, there is another house that needs us to love it and dust it off and make it shine. A very important house... my old house. Today, as we drove past it, they agreed that it really needs us to help it. They love the thought that I lived there when I was a kid and ask me to tell them stories about growing up there. It has given them a very real purpose to the move, and they are big enough now to take ownership in house's transformation.

The move into my old house isn't the final destination of our plan. Our plan is to renovate it and stay there to save money for a few years, so that we can build a house on the land that we bought in Senoia. That is so far off that I am not focusing on it at all, but I'm sure it will be an insane wild crazy adventure of its own. For now, I am working on grasping steps one and two... and trying to get my head around how to move six people, two goats, eight chickens and two cats... without scarring my children, annoying my parents or losing my mind in the process.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Turtle Talk

We finally found a home for the bonus turtle. When I ordered the turtles, I got one extra just because I assumed one would surely kick the bucket. It didn't happen, and we've had one too many turtles. A friend of a friend is coming over to pick one up tomorrow for her son's 5th birthday. We ordered two boys and girl, so Asa and Addison were discussing how to tell which ones are boys and which are girls.

Asa explained, "I'll stick my finger in the tank. When one bites, take him out... he's a boy. When another one bites, that one's a boy. The one that's left is the girl."

So true, my son... so true.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Ivey's Got Skills

My little organizationally gifted child loves to sort. She's got the names of the colors down pat, and showed off her pre-preschool skills today during her homeschool table time. I guess I need to stop bragging since she also literally squeezed the crap out of the kitten and is currently in a spit bubble blowing competition with her exceptionally drooly baby sister. Nevertheless, the colored bears end up on the corresponding cups complete with appropriate verbiage!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

2nd Grade, Here We Come!

Today was the first day of school and a very succesful one at that. Ivey didn't wake up until 9:00 and Olive goes down for her first nap at 10:00, so we were able to just have one baby at a time to deal with. Asa commented that he had forgotten how much fun school was, which every teacher likes to hear. Ivey sat with us at the table for over two hours... coloring and sorting colored bears into little cups. I'm sure not every day will go as smoothly as this one, but I'll take it one day at a time. When you homeschool you can end your first day of school with multicolored-plastic-sorting-bear-fireworks, propelled with Jack-in-the-Box power!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

On The Lake

We just spent four days at Lake Lanier, and boy did we need it. This debt reduction plan has meant that we have not gone on a vacation in a very long time... and this was our big vacation until the big long-awaited Disney trip of 10/11. Although packing up for our family of six was daunting (two pack and plays, an excersaucer to keep the peanut at bay, baby gates, etc, etc) it was well worth the effort. Asa and Addison were awesome. I made a huge pile bags and pack and plays and coolers and such... and they hauled everything to the van and packed it full. If they couldn't carry something, they each grabbed an end and worked together. We did this for hours. Literally, hours. Towards the end, I pulled them aside and thanked them for their hard work, and more importantly, for doing it with "Yes ma'am" instead of complaints. I had been saving a Leapster game for each of them for just such an occasion. I let them know that if they kept it up for another 30 minutes, they would have a surprise. It was waiting for them in their seats, which made for a very peaceful trip to the lake.

We spent a lot of time just swimming off the dock. The boys must have jumped in a billion times, half of which were Asa off the second level. Ivey got the hang of swimming in a life jacket (we don't use water wings or floats in pools, so this was brand new for her) and paddled herself around the lake like a little yellow duck. She woke up in the mornings asking for her "baby soup" (bathing suit) and "life jacket". Addison and I went on a mean tube ride and I even took Ivey on the tube with me. She loved it. That girl has no fear!

Although I was unsuccessful in my attempts of standing up on a knee board, I was completely successful in teaching my boys how to ride! They both got up on their knees and went around the lake. Addison really loved it, even more than Asa. On the torpedo-inflatable-pull-behind-the-boat-contraption, they started signing to tell us to go around and round in circles until we made such huge waves that they were thrown off into the air head over heels... over and over. Those boys are crazy! What's really crazy is that, even after watching them and their high speed bucking bronco antics, Ivey wanted to ride with them! She climbed on the front and we pulled the three of them all the way back to the dock... with Ivey intentionally bouncing up and down as if to say that we weren't going nearly fast enough for her taste.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

"Not Back to School" Party!

Today we had a "Not Back To School" party with our homeschool friends! We ate some hotdogs, caught and named catalpa worms and played in the pool and chased chickens around the yard with water guns. Come on, doesn't everyone do that at a party? The Catalpa worms went home in Styrofoam cups as if they were little goody bags.

We will be starting school in one week, and I am pleased to say that I already have 3 weeks of lesson plans written out in my lesson plan book. I asked Addison if he was ready for school to start and he replied, "YES! This is gonna be one exciting year!". I think he's right. This year, the boys will be taking a few classes at Summit Academy, which has a new campus right down the road. This isn't a school, but a group of teachers... tutors.... who have homeschool classes a la carte. Classes are only held on Wednesday, with lessons to complete at home the rest of the week.

The boys will be taking Medieval History (which is perfect since we did Story of the World's 'Ancient Civilizations' last year). They will be in the class with their friends Aiden, Bryson and Carson. With a set of twins and a set of triplets in the class, it was full enough for the class to go on as soon as the two of us signed up! I think they are going to have a great time with lots of projects and creative opportunities. The next class they will go to is art, which they both wanted desperately. Although I am very crafty and artistic, I can only do so much... I only know so much... and art projects are time consuming and can get expensive! I am thrilled for them to fill this need somewhere else! After art will be Tae Kwon Do. I wasn't initially going to do this class, but they were both insistent, and it will count as PE. Plus, we couldn't do any martial art any cheaper anywhere else. Finally, they will be going to a 3-5th grade class, Anatomy and Physiology. The health teacher in me is totally excited about this one. I will be helping with the at home reading assignments, and the teacher thinks they will be just fine in there with the slightly older kids.

In addition to Summit Academy, Asa and Addison will be in Youth Handbells on Wednesday nights and a Drama class at the church on Sunday afternoons. It makes for a pretty full schedule, since I will have handbell practice on Tuesday nights. I just keep telling myself that most people have to get everyone up at the crack of dawn and get out the door before the sun comes up. I think about this on mornings like yesterday... when I heard sweet sounds on the monitor and went up the stairs to find Ivey, in a fabulous mood, with her diaper in one hand and poop smeared everywhere... on the sheets, the bumper, her legs, arms, stuffed animals... no fun. My morning went from running up the stairs to get Ivey so that I could milk the goats before Olive woke up to doing mountains of laundry and bathing a poo covered child. If we had to get out the door for school, I have no idea what I would have done.

We are continuing with some of last year's curricula, but some will change. We will be using Abeka for spelling, reading, phonics and poetry, which is new for us. Grammar remains the same, with First Language Lessons. We will use Spectrum Writing for writing skills and our journals from last year for Creative Writing. Science will be through Summit, who uses the new Apologia's "Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology". After checking out the book, I am pleased. I am not big on heavily religious curricula (I'm just not a fan of feeling like you need to learn multiplication by figuring out how many shoes the Apostles would need... it's just forced and over the top in my opinion), but this simply gives God His due credit for creating such an amazing body, which I appreciate.

For Math, I am crazy. For some reason, I can not be content to follow one curriculum. The boys tested into Teaching Textbooks 3rd Grade, which is a very cool computer based learning program. However, it is not as advanced as the one we used last year. Even though they will be in the 3rd grade math, I still want to keep them moving in the speed they enjoy, so we will be using Mammoth Math 2A and 2B along with Teaching Textbooks. Mammoth Math is very similar to Singapore Math, which we used for the 1st grade. I think they are going to love the computer lessons and we'll make sure to stay on our advanced track with the other.

History will be "The Story of the World", which they loved. Plus, they will have an energetic fun teacher at Summit who is on FIRE for history! We will have handwriting with "A Reason For Handwriting", and we'll somehow manage to learn cursive this year. Some people have asked if they still teach it. Yes, and I will too. Cursive is faster and I use it as my primary writing. So, my boys will learn it! For Social Studies, we will be learning the 50 states and capitols for the first half of the year and do a Georgia study for the second half. We will also be doing Spanish with Rosetta Stone, which the boys started at the last half of last year.

Whew! Somehow this will all take place with an almost two year old girl who sounds just like a tea kettle when she doesn't get her way and a 5 month old baby who eats every 3-4 hours. It will work... with a lot of sweat and very little sleep, some flexibility and a lot of patience, it will work!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Excer-saucy and the Stair Monster

Once you get to baby number four, time simply flies. You don't have time to lay on the floor and babble and play for hours each day, and so milestones just spring up on you. Olive has been pulling herself across the floor for a while now, army style with some toe digging booty lifting action. Today, I got the excersaucer down from the attic, dusted it off, and had one seriously happy little baby in my kitchen. She, like her daddy, is a very intense little being. She likes action and excitement, she wants to go, go, GO!

Speaking of going places, I temporarily took the baby gates off of the stairs so that Ivey can have full range of the house (except for the boys' room, which has its own gate. That room is four walls of instant toddler death!). She can now go up to her room or play with toys in the upstairs foyer. The thing I have to watch out for, that I knew I would have to watch out for, is her trying to bring baby strollers, dump trucks, or large cumbersome objects up or down with her. Luckily, she talks a lot now and I can hear what is going on from pretty much any point in the house. The real problem will be in a few months when Olive is pulling up and I have to put the gates back on the stairs. Ivey doesn't do well with having a freedom removed (which is why time out works so well for her). I'll worry about that later... for now, I have a happy girl who likes to go "uppastairs self".