I had a wonderful opportunity to attend a homeschool convention at a fabulous hotel with 3 other really great women!
I haven't been away from home in about 3 years so that part was phenomenal too! Anyway, back in the fall a friend approached me about going to the convention. If you are a homeschooler, in our state, you definitely know about this convention. Hundreds of vendors, tons of presenters and most importantly, at a really, really great facility.
So, I broached hubby with the idea, because he would have to watch the kids and take the weekend off from work. And he seemed totally OK with it. So plans were made.
Thursday morning we left early and headed out of town. When we arrived at our destination, I think it is safe to say all of us were in awe! The hotel was HUGE, 1500 sleeping rooms, 10,000 or more space convention center, 4 lanes in the valet line, streams running through the middle of the hotel and a movie screen with about 100 chairs in the middle of the hotel covered by a gigantic atrium.
I am not exaggerating when I say, that by day three, I still couldn't find my way to the pool without getting lost. There were two hot tubs, one adult pool and one whole kids pool area with tons of water "toys" including an octopus, the size of our camper, that water shot out of.
I think there were at least 3 restaurants inside, of all different types. And, a handful of snack stations placed through out the hotel. And coffee spots.
Once we got checked in and I got over my shock of where we were, we headed down to the Vendors Exhibition Hall. Oh my!! For a person who loves books and curricula, it was like a slice of heaven on earth. Rows and rows and rows of vendors and books. Thankfully I had brought a list of things I wanted to look at and needed. It was great to actually touch some work books, thumb through them before buying. I actually ended up not buying a book or two because, after looking through them, they were not what I wanted.
Now, I did make up for that fact by buying a few different things then I had on my list. It was also cool to chat with my girlfriends about what I was buying (or they were buying) and get instant feedback.
Friday and Saturday were filled with a bunch of really great, inspirational speakers. Everything from a mother of four from England, talking about being a hero in our home, to a General in the Army who was one of the very first Army Rangers and the faith that carried him through. I will be honest, I did not attend every single hour of talks. Part of my trip was for a little R&R.
And, part of that R&R was meeting up with a really good friend, who I had not seen in at least 5 years. She was willing to drive 20 minutes, on her lunch hour, to come hang with me for a little. We had a wonderful time just catching up and talking about being a parent and how wonderfully challenging it can be. I was so blessed by our time together!
Friday night we tried to get in the hot tub but it was lightening. Again. (We had attempted Thursday night as well.) So, we had a really good dinner at the pool side restaurant. And then walked around the huge hotel and went to our room and just talked and watched a little TLC.
Saturday was another presentation for about an hour. And then, off to the pool for a couple hours of relaxation before leaving for home! That was wonderful, to just sit and sun and contemplate life. It really helped to renew my mind and my goals as a parent and an educator.
I made one really huge decision. I decided we were done with school for the year. (Continuing math and bible only. But, done with the rest.) We, for the summer, are going to concentrate on loving, obedience, service to others and getting ready for the fall. Oh yea, and having some relaxed fun. With family and with friends.
I am so glad we went. Because the hotel was family friendly and we are thinking about a trip to Sea World, hubby is already planning a family vacation around the conference next year . . .
I was able to go away for a couple of days, with some girlfriends, to a homeschool conference. When I go away from home, without kids, for any length of time, I always have trouble readjusting to being home. (I call it "re-entry.")
And, considering this was my first time away, leaving all four kids with Paul overnight, I was that much more leery about what I would find when I got home. And, how I would handle it.
But, I was so very pleasantly surprised last night when I got home a little before 10:30P.M. The family (minus EG who hadn't had a nap and was in bed) met me at the door. There were smiles and hugs. It was dark, smelled of cleaning bleach and there were candles lit. It was spectacular!
The girls had taken the initiative to scrub floors and clean bathrooms. Hubby scrubbed the kitchen and Boop dusted the T.V. So peaceful, so relaxing, such a great way for a mom to come home, who is not use to being away!! I was so glad to be home with my family!
Don't miss understand me, I had a great time! Homeschooling and girlfriends, two wonderful things combined. Oh, and did I mention a fabulous hotel that I can't wait to describe in a later post?!?
Not that I want to go away again, anytime in the near future, but it was so nice to come home to a clean, peaceful, happy house. . .
Or it could be titled: I Am Naive or Rude Awakening.
We deliver to an elderly couple for Meals on Wheels. They live in a cinder block house probably about three miles from us. Nice couple. Always very polite and thankful when we bring their food. They like coke and fruit punch and juice and white bread so we try to bring those things to them as well.
As we do with all of our clients, we always offer to help them with anything they might need. For this couple, I always offer to bring their food into the kitchen. They only get frozen meals once a week, so the bags can be pretty heavy. She always declines. We chat for a few minutes and then I leave.
About 2 weeks ago, she asked me to put her food in the kitchen. So LM, Boop and I did just that. And I was absolutely, positively shocked by what I saw. It was a mess and there were insects running every where. She happen to have someone there at the time trying to help her with her problem. I offered whatever assistance I could, at the time, and when she didn't need anything from us, we left.
But, as I was driving home I was speechless. It obviously wasn't a new insect problem, just one that was out of control and probably had been for quite some time.
When I got home, I told hubby the story in tears. I felt God calling me to do something. That I couldn't just forget what I saw. But, I had no idea what to do. One of the first things I did was email my church and forward a little bit of the story and then asked for volunteers for cleaning or whatever else the couple might need.
So, when I delivered MOWs this past Wednesday, I asked the lady if there was anything she wanted cleaned or any type of help, especially because I knew she was working to get rid of her pest problem. She asked right away if we would help her clean off a porch/sitting room in her house. And I said sure. No problem. That was not what I originally thought she would want me to do but I told her that I would call her as soon as I could get together some help.
That Friday, my hubby and I, the two older girls, and another man from church met at the lady's home with two pick-up trucks and a trailer, garbage bags and gloves. We went in, ready to clean out her inside porch area. But, as I talked with her she seemed overwhelmed and had other things on her mind. She hadn't had time to go through the stuff on the porch and just didn't want us taking it away. She still had her pest problem and I offered, again, to clean her kitchen, but she declined and said she would get to it when she felt better.
After a little conversation, I convinced her to let us go through her carport. There was all kinds of stuff out front. Boxes and bags and cans full of "stuff." There were electronics and fishing gear. None of it looked like it had been touched in forever. So, we took a little initiative and just started going through stuff.
She sat with us telling us what could go and what to keep. A lot of the stuff she just wasn't willing to part with. I looked quizzically at hubby and he just said it was a comfort to her. He deals with people in this situation all the time. Houses full of stuff, insects and rodents taking over. And most of the time, the people just don't even seem to notice or care.
As it was explained to me by my husband and the man who was helping, it is just the way it is. Just the way they live, and probably have always lived. There are thousands of families just in our area who live like this.
I still shake my head. I still see the images in my mind. I still feel the need to help and have offered her my help any time she needs me. But, I am learning, that I cannot help those who don't want help or don't think they need help.
Hubby asked me, while we were there, if I was there for them, or for me. I hesitated a moment. But, I know that God called me to do something because it was so out of my comfort zone. Even if it is just being available to this family. I will continue to bring them the meals, bread, juice and soda. And continue to ask every Wednesday when I leave "Is there anything I can do for you?"
It has been a hard lesson to learn. It is incredible how naive I can be. And definitely a rude awakening. But, it has definitely softened my heart to needs, wants, desires and lives of others. . .
Yesterday was the girls' ballet recital. As always, it brought tears to my eyes. The girls looked so beautiful and worked so hard to get their dances done right. And it truly is a joy to my heart to watch them dance.
This year they were in Upper Division and part of a story ballet. The director of their ballet "school" actually wrote it, did all the choreography, directed in it and had a small part. The story was about young Swedish women, leaving their mothers and immigrating to the U.S. A loose story of her history.
It had some fairy tales intertwined like any good ballet. :) In the beginning, I was apprehensive about the whole undertaking. But, yesterday, I was blessed like so many others, with the end result. I think the girls liked participating in a whole ballet story. Well, Little Mama did more than Nature Girl.
Nature Girl was a little preoccupied with making sure everyone was doing what they were suppose to be doing. She might be more the director type! She just wanted it all to be perfect! And, it was!
Some of the songs they danced to were the Celtic Women and we just happened to have two of those songs. So, LM spent a lot of time practising in the living room. And I think it paid off. She really looked like she was having fun.
Towards the end of the year, I had convinced myself that I was done with ballet. I wanted the girls to explore other areas of interest. Some closer to home and not as expensive or time consuming. But, after watching them yesterday and listening to their desires to dance again and watching them, I have made up my mind they will dance for another year. . .
I was cleaning up this evening when I ran across one of the girl's math papers. The paper had a huge chunk ripped out of it. Hubby was sitting at the table, wrapping up some work stuff, and I showed him the paper.
"EG, she eats the kids school work." I wonder if that would be a reasonable excuse at school. "I am sorry teacher, my little sister ate my homework."
One of hubby's joys is our ever growing garden. He seems to glean much pleasure from working out there with his hands. And then reaping the benefits from his physical toils.
This year we have corn, green peppers, collards, red lettuce, tomatoes, onions, spaghetti squash, sweet potatoes, regular potatoes. The peppers are being picked and the onions being pulled. We are waiting on the tomatoes, both cherry and regular. The corn is an experiment as is the spaghetti squash.
We have been eating the collars and have made stuffed green peppers already. We have had many salads with our red lettuce. He is currently in search of a tiller to make it just a little bit bigger.
When I think about all the work it takes to get just a couple meals of vegetables, it really does make me wonder how on earth people survived when there were no refrigerators or grocery stores. I guess they had the barter system, my lettuce for your tomatoes. Which, I think is kind of cool.
This is just something I want to remember, so if I don't post it, I will someday forget, because my brain gets to full of other stuff.
I put EG to bed and we sing two songs. "I pick, I pick," she says. But, it is always the same two songs. Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and Jesus Loves Me. All the while she is playing, twisting, stroking, running her long hair on the back of her head with her fingers.
When I am done singing, she leans up and we give kisses to each other. She then asks me, "You sit on the couch, in the middle?" To which I reply "Yes, I sit on the couch in the middle." Then she asks "You hang up my towel?" (Her towel from her shower.) "Yes, EG, I did hang up your towel. Thank you so much for reminding me. That is such a big help. You go night, night. If you sleep all night, in your crib, you get a juice box in the morning. I love you so much." EG, "I love you so much too."
I am a slow learner, about a lot of things, but the potty training thing only took me one child.
I started potty training NG before Little Mama came along. She wasn't even two. People told me I needed to start about that time. Especially with a new baby on the way. I was not the least bit successful. And, both NG and I were frustrated.
I decided to take the laid back approach with Little Mama and then Boop. Let them let me know when they were ready. When they had a vocabulary to tell me potty, etc. Both were potty trained by 2 1/2. With relative frustration all the way around.
For LM and Boop, I barely did a thing. I helped them on the big potty when they wanted to. And, granted, it might have taken a couple months to fully get them trained but it was totally stress free. I don't think LM ever had an accident and was night trained before NG was. Boop practically did it all by himself. He had a few accidents, but over all it was stress free.
So, when EG decided before Christmas she wanted to go potty, I was fine with it and just let her progress at her own pace. We have gone two steps forward and four steps back in some weeks. And then, we have had big time bonus days with no accidents what so ever.
I bribe for potty training. M&Ms, jelly beans and now butterscotch chips. She is learning a skill so I don't think it really is bribery. It is encouragement. ;) We use the big potty. And, yes I have to put her up there but I am OK with that.
I started using pull-ups with Boop because having older children I just had to feel safe going out in public. I only used them when we are out of the house. I use them with EG also. Probably a little more because we seem to be on the go a little more.
I just figured out right away that the kids, if they go to college, won't be going in a diaper. And, if I stressed ,they would stress. Yes, I have had to change poopy underwear and yes, I have just spent most of Boop's t-ball game in the potty with EG, but, no worries.
As with everything else, this too shall pass. And, for the first time in 10 years, I will be diaper free. But, for now I am enjoying the fact that EG woke up dry. For the first time. Small steps, baby steps, no worries . . .
One of the most famous libraries in the world, I would guess, would be the New York Public Library. When my mom, sister and I went to NYC a couple of years ago, it was a must on our list of things to do. It is the one with the two big lion statues out front of it. I think, when we went, they had Christmas wreathes around their necks.
Anyway, one of the souvenirs I brought back from my trip was a book titled Lion in the Library and it was, and is, a hit. The kids and I love it! I just started reading it to EG. It is about a lion, who one day happened to walk into a library. The librarian didn't much care he was there. But, one rule was, he could not roar. He became indispensable, dusting shelves with his tail, being a pillow during story time and licking envelopes.
Well, one day he did roar. But, it was for a very good reason. He was scolded by the librarian's assistant and sent away from the library. You will have to read the book to see how it turns out. ;)
So, yesterday, we were on our way to the library. I asked EG "What are we going to see at the library?" I was really looking for the answer "books." But instead she said "we see lion at the library," all smiles, of course. I could have stopped the car right then and given her a big ol' hug!
The big kids just smiled and giggled. I know I have said it so many times, but one of the greatest joys I have is reading to my kids. And, it makes it so much more special to know that they actually listen and understand and enjoy it . . .
Our last time camping for awhile was great. Of course.
We went to a camp ground that had a lake and canoes to rent, which were a big hit. We had great food and great friends to share it all with.
We saw lots of new types of birds to identify.
I discovered if I put EG to bed in our bed, she would go to sleep and I could go back outside to sit around the fire.
I didn't take many pictures this time. Don't know why. It might have had to do with the gnats (there were tons) or that is was a little warm or that most of the time we were around water and I was scared to death of getting the camera wet.
For Mother's Day, I got a bike and a baby carrier. So, EG and I would randomly ride around the camp ground.
Anyway, here are a few and thanks to my friend, I have a few more . . .
I cannot image the person I would be, if I were not a mom. I thank God, quite often, for my children, and not just for the many blessings they bring me in my life, but for the person God has allowed them to make me.
My children have:
Grown my walk with God
Developed my dependence on Jesus
Taught me how to be unselfish
Made me realize I don't need time to myself
Made me appreciate my husband and the time he spends at home
Grown my creativeness
Taught me about my need for prayer and quiet time with God
Helped me get my priorities straight
Showed me that appearance isn't everything
Developed my listening skills
Grown my patience
Shown me that someone is always watching
Made me realize I am an example
I am ever growing and ever changing. I can only hope and pray that my children will "rise up and call me blessed." But, I know, that I know, that I know, that I have been blessed beyond measure . . .
I think our last trip for awhile. Too hot to camp in the summer. Even with the air conditioned camper.
Anyway, we leave in the morning to go to a relatively local lake that we have been to once before. We are going to celebrate NG's 10th birthday. And she just wanted to be near water. The beach was our first choice, but, apparently you have to make reservations months in advance for that. Live and learn.
Anyway, we can swim in the lake and apparently there is great fishing. We can even rent a canoe.
We are going with 2 of the families that we went camping with for spring break, so that is exciting. Lots of kids. Lots of fun. Lots of activity.
For an anniversary/Mother's Day present, I got a new bike. With a little carrier for EG to sit in. I am excited to take up bike riding with the whole family in tow! I think it will be a great way to exercise. And kind of fun too.
We have a bike nature trail in our area, so my goal is to get us all to go on short biking trips together. We will see how it goes this weekend!
Anyway, laundry to finish. Clothes to pack. Food to organize and a grocery list to make. Happy Mother's Day moms . . .
Daddy bought water balloons yesterday for our camping trip this weekend. 500 of them. EG has been walking around with them for almost 24 hours now. Telling everyone they are hers. I have been politely suggesting she share with 13 of her closet friends, under the age of ten, who will also be camping with her this weekend.
For those of you who didn't see my post on Facebook, Boop got the game ball for his T-ball game this past Saturday. The coach said for great running and hitting. Boop has really improved. So has the rest of the team and it has been great to watch.
It is so beautiful outside today that all of our windows are open. Yesterday, the air conditioning was on full blast.
Bought a fabulous bookshelf for $5 yesterday. It is now next to the china cabinet that is no longer filled with wedding china but with school books.
EG gives me a great big hug and says "I love you so much!" Does she really have to grown up? . . .
We, and I say we because the majority of us, have been sick since Sunday. Nature Girl throwing up, me, Boop and EG with head colds etc. Not to mention we watched the third Star Wars (or the 6th).
All that to say, is, no one is sleeping where they are suppose to be sleeping. Which always cracks me up, because before EG came along, it was imperative that everyone slept where they were suppose to sleep. Meaning in their own beds.
Now, I just want sleep. No matter where or how.
So Sunday looked like this: me, EG and Nature Girl on the couch. It was a progression from about 10 until 2. Then around 4/5ish Boop ended up in bed with daddy. Little Mama stayed put.
Last night looked like this: me and NG in my bed, daddy on the couch, Little Mama and Boop in the big girls room and EG stayed put.
I just needed sleep, as did everyone else, and I didn't care how we (I) got it. I still don't feel well, Nature Girl is still throwing up but at least we all got some much needed sleep . . .
It has been amazing to me how much my 2 1/2 can, will do. Because the first three were pretty close together, it was possible to minimize the use of some words and to avoid the trappings of certain foods.
I can remember going to Micky D's with Nature Girl and bringing her lunch of yogurt and peas. I have a friend who was amazed that I could get through the Sonic's drive through and not get the kids anything. They honestly didn't know they could. We weren't big on hard candy and gum. I don't know the ages of the kids when they were introduced to that stuff. But, I am sure it was way later then normal. I wasn't really depriving them or setting unobtainable goals, they just didn't know any of it was an option.
Because they, the older three, are close in age, there just wasn't the introduction of such words as "shut up" and "stupid." So, we managed for a good number of years not to worry about those things.
Because the oldest is 10, we (she) has been exposed to all kinds of words now. Some good, some not so good. Some you just don't want your 2 1/2 year old to repeat. And, I can't get through a drive through now without buying 5 drinks. Who told them they served minors, anyway!?!
So, I want to apologize now, for my two and a half year old's, ever growing vocabulary. Which includes "shut up" and "stupid." She loves to say "Booper, he not stupid. Mommy you not stupid." And on and on and on. We try to ignore her because she just wants a reaction. And, I know it is only a matter of time when she calls someone outside the house "poopy" or some other such word.
I just don't remember having these struggles with the others. Maybe it is just because my memory is going. But, I would like to think I just paid more attention to what was going on. Or maybe just more diligent. Or, maybe it is just the natural progression of things, the more kids you have . . .