Thursday, November 29, 2012

Dream a Little Dream

Olive has hit a phase that I am remembering all too well with Ivey.  She is having very vivid dreams... some good, some bad, but most cause a nightly disturbance.  Children often have nighmares and vivid dreams at this age.  They are more independent, interact more with the world around them, and are very busy!  Their imaginations, as well as their feet, are running wild.  All of my four went through this.  For Ivey, it was all about coyotes, foxes, and frogs.  These mischievous critters would somehow find their way into her bed at night, causing all out hysterics.  (Look back to the post on my homemade coyote/fox/frog repellant.)  I remember Asa and Addison going through similar phases, although this predates my blogging habit.

A few months ago, I heard shouts from the girls' room.  They weren't screams, just "Mommy.  Come here.  Mommy.  I need you."  I opened the door to find Olive standing there, in the dark.  She appeared to be mostly asleep.  Without even looking up, she said, "Can you get the shrimp out of my bed?"  I took her to bed, got rid of any hidden shrimp, and she was perfectly fine.  Since then, she has had some less benign nights of "bugs" in her bed.  The other night, she showed up at the side of our bed and said, in her super deep voice, "Momma.  There's a monster in my bed."  I was too exhausted to take her back to bed, much less battle monsters, so I pulled her up into bed with us.  I'm not sure how much time went by, but I was sure she was asleep for at least 30 minutes.  Then, out of the dark, she asks me when I was going to go get that monster.  The girl just figured I was resting up.  Once I told her she could sleep with me, that's exactly what she did.  The next morning, I realized that she and I had left Ivey in the room to fend for herself.  Luckily, she's on the top bunk.

Tonight, at 11:30, I just heard Olive yell out for help.  It wasn't a scream of terror, just a loud, matter of fact statement that assistance is required.  She was sitting up in her bed, looked at me and explained, "There's a big mess.  Can you clean it up?  All of the ice fell out of my cup and made a mess."  Her eyes then rolled back and she fell completely forward, fast asleep.  I have a feeling this girl's sleep disturbance phase is going to rival her daddy's bizarre sleep behavior in his twenties.  When we first were married, the man would leap from a deep sleep, bound across the room, in the dark, and I would have to talk him down from a perched position on top of the dressed.  Yes, on TOP of the dresser.  There were mice in the bed, sleep walking, more sleep LEAPING, and he even would solve his coding issues out loud.  Yes, he would speak techno-babble in his sleep.  How exciting is that?

For now, the ice has probably melted in Olive's dream.  Perhaps I should make a smart move and head to bed, myself.  You never know when the next shrimp could strike.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Oh, Christmas Tree

I managed to get the house in order just enough to go get a tree today!  

 Jeff and the "big three" loaded up in the go-kart and little trailer.  Olive and I took a ride in Daddy's truck down the road to the Minter's.  Ivey was decked out in her Angry Birds shirt, cape, black and white galoshes, Super Mario Bros hat, and two stuffed cats.  She was definitely ready for some tree hunting.  Olive was armed only with her monstrous two year old attitude, and could knock down trees with a single scowl.  We chose a beautiful, just skinny enough to fit, Leland Cyprus, and headed back up the road.  Now the hard part... to locate the decorations!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving, without the Turkey

What a weird Thanksgiving we have had this year.  Last week, we learned that Randy had to have bypass surgery.  At first, it was a single bypass and they scheduled it a few weeks out.  Then, it changed to a triple and it couldn't wait.  They scheduled it for last Friday.  At the last minute, they changed it to the following Monday... and then it changed again to Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving.  At some point, the triple changed to a quintuple, if that is even the correct way to say it.  For a family of anxiety-ridden people, it was no fun at all to get psyched up for surgery only to have it changed so many times.

By the time Wednesday came around, Jeff and I were both huge balls of worry.  Jeff paced and scowled, which is what Jeff's do best.  I explained that it was routine... that is a common surgery... and that he is young.   I compared it to Addison's pyloric stenosis surgery when he was only 4lbs and we were scared out of our minds.  At the time, they told us it was routine and something they see all the time.  At that moment, we were terrified as it was all unknown to us.  But, looking back, it was a routine surgery and nothing out of the ordinary.  Now, Addison would have never known he even had surgery except for that big scar across his chest.  I was so used to playing the role of the calming wife that it shocked me when Jeff asked me a question and I burst into tears when I tried to respond.   Yes, bypass surgery is routine.  But, it's not routine for us.

For the past week, Granddaddy has had doctor's appointments and medications to fill and all kinds of things that are out of the ordinary.  Jeff filled in for Randy and took the boys to their Aikido lessons on Tuesday.  We usually head over to their place for dinner on Tuesdays and then Randy and the boys go to Aikido afterward.  I figured Randy would be, I don't know, prepping for the big day?  Silly me, he convinced Linda to cook up some chili and have us all over anyway.  These kids have him so SNOWED!  That night, I really noticed how much the kids jump, pounce, crawl on, and generally attack their granddaddy... all of which is totally egged on.  Good grief, this recovery isn't going to be easy with these four around!  Well, I guess it would be even harder without them.

Randy has been out of commission since Wednesday morning, and we, I, miss those phone calls and typical drop in visits.  I didn't realize how weird it would be if he didn't call for his twice a day check-ins... especially since I usually have to let him go as I am juggling math lessons, pots boiling over, and at least one preschooler shinnying up my leg.  I can't wait until he feels good enough to check on his "herd", and laugh at me when I tell him exactly what's up at our madhouse.

So, we spent Thanksgiving without the big Turkey... and we realized that the rest of the meal just isn't the same without him.  Who else is going to sneak the kids Dove chocolates even if they didn't eat their veggies?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Picture Day!

Yesterday was picture day at our hybrid class.  Looking at the shots made me realize just how much my boys have grown!

I vividly remember the fourth grade.  It was the beginning of social awareness.  This was the point where I remember realizing that there was a divide between people.  It was the year where social cleaving began.  The buds of popularity popped up, but probably not truly identified as such until the following year.  Until this year, we were all the same.  However, for some reason, now the style of flats you wore with your leggings and the size of the bubbly heart you use instead of a dot on your i's began to matter.  Maybe this is why that I refused to wear my hair any way but in a tight ponytail for these two years.  I would only wear sweat pants, or similar stretchy-wasted pants.  I think my realization that I could not compete in this arena, made me a bit of a fashion introvert.  Luckily for me, Cobain, Kiedis, Ferrell, and Vedder were going to sweep in in a few short years and give my inferiority complex and baggy clothes purpose.  I felt right at home in that M.C. Escher shirt (hidden safely under a big flannel shirt), skeleton tights, and Doc Martins.

No, it wasn't all bad!  I vividly remember being in the 5th grade, jumping on my friend Lori's bed, singing "Livin' on a Prayer" into a hairbrush at the top of my lungs.  There were slumber parties, we made up silly songs about absolutely everything, we played Oregon Trail in computer lab, we actually paid attention during science experiments.  We had an epic fifth grade Halloween party in my barn, complete with my super cool 19 year old uncle as the D.J..  My best friend and I were separated in the sixth grade.  But, mom somehow managed to get up the money for a pair of hot pink and black LA Gear flames and a Liz Claiborn purse, so I managed to get by without being a total loser that year, even if I did find out that Julie Lewis paid that redheaded boy $2 to ask me to slow dance to "Love Bites" at the Rec Center dance.  Anyhow, the forth grade definitely marked the beginning of this school-room-caste-system, at least that's when I first noticed it, anyway.

Now, I come back to Asa and Addison.  We homeschool, but we have a class of 3rd and 4th graders.  This year, there are enough students for the dynamic to be similar to a typical classroom in a sense.  With 11 kids, they can play different games during free time, and talk to different friends about different things.  But, the small number, the tight supervision, and the fact that character education is a theme throughout the entire day, creates a strikingly different atmosphere.  Early in the year, I laid down the law on behavior, on respect, and on how to treat others.  I am sensitive to teasing, even if it is only a sideways glance.  I explained to the class that, last year, I created a classroom environment of support and love that I will not compromise.  I let them know that this could be their bubble, the place where each of them can be themselves, can be welcome, can be safe from any of those crummy feelings you get when a mean kid comes and ruins your day at the playground.  They embraced this speech, and it was evident as the weeks rolled along.

In the last month, we have had a student come to class in a long blonde wig, for no reason other than that she wanted to.  No one really cared.  It wasn't disruptive, a big deal, or in the way.  On another day, Anna dressed up in full Pink Power Ranger costume.  At the end of the day, I spoke to Ellen on the phone. She asked how the costume went over.  I told her I didn't even think all the kids noticed that Anna was dressed like the Pink Power Ranger.  At that point, Addison spoke up from the backseat, "Anna was dressed up like a Power Ranger?  Oh.  I didn't notice."  Talk about being able to be yourself!  You can dress up in a dress and wedges, or you can wear dirty camouflage pants.  It's all the same.  One morning, a group of kids were standing around talking.  A boy asked everyone if they had seen the new Tinkerbell movie.  They had not, but all of them, boys and girls, were discussing the Tinkerbell movies that they had seen, which were better than others, and making recommendations.  Boys can, and do, watch shows like Care Bears and My Little Ponies, and girls can, and do, wear Stars Wars shirts and camo pants.  They discuss differences, preferences, and feelings, in matter of fact ways. 

At least so far, there is a mature atmosphere of acceptance and a lack of judgement.  Perhaps this is not "the real world" of elementary school.  But, wouldn't it be nice if it were?  Why not expect children to treat each other with respect, acceptance, and with a blind eye to differences?  I will never accept eye rolling or a snide comment toward any student within our walls... and all of these kids will reap the benefit of being expected to exhibit social and emotional maturity.

I say it to my kids all the time, when they ask if their paragraph is long enough or their handwriting is good enough, my answer is usually to "just be impressive".

We should all be.

And my boys impress me every single day.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Perfectionist

Learning Zone

The social structure at our little "school" has really taken off this year, much to the delight of my Asa. The boy needs people to buzz around him... or for him to buzz around. If I had only had Addison, we would have been perfectly content studying at the dining room table, alone. As long as someone knew how to play chess, and as long as he could go over to my Papa's house and play Hand and Foot Canasta with Martha Ann, he would be fine... for a long while, at least.
On the home front, the girls have been soaking up the homeschooling that takes place all around them, all the time.  They know songs for how to spell their first names (to the tune of BINGO) and their last names (to the tune of Mary Had A Little Lamb).  They love to write their letters, and are well on their way to sounding out words.  Both of them know 15 sight words, which we practice in super fun ways.  With the boys, I was so nervous that I wouldn't know how to teach them.  I worried that I wasn't trained in early childhood education.  I am now realizing that I am better off not to.  I do not have preprogrammed ideas of what children at 2, 3, 4, or 5 should or should not be able to do.  I read them, and I provide them with what they ask for... knowledge.

The girls' recent surge in the love for school-like learning has made me so excited to homeschool them.  They will be doing it together, both at the same time, in the same grade.  Why?  Because Olive can do it.  And, I can adjust however I need to, whenever I need to.  With the boys, I was nervous.  Now, the boys have transitioned into these amazing, motivated, independent learners.  Now that 1st grade is getting closer and closer with the girls, I can hardly wait!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Happy Halloween!

We had a great Halloween week!

The kids marched off to classes as Ruby Gloom, Doom Kitty, Gollum, and Froto.  They partied, ate entirely too much candy, and had an awesome time with their classmates!  We walked over to the church on Saturday for Trunk or Treat.  I love small churches.  Short/No lines for games and lots of friends to keep an eye on the kids as they run amuck!  On Halloween Day, we headed to Karen's house for the Halloween party!  The girls were so excited!  Not only was is Halloween, but it was Kristen and Jen's birthdays!  Cake, candy, costumes, candles... I mean, talk about an overload of fun!