Life With Nine Kids

Friday, January 27, 2012

Making time to do a few things, photos and a moment to reflect on being a good role model

Yesterday was a fantastic day, even if I had to get up an hour earlier than usual (little kids were up) and I had a headache for half the day. Everett was a handful and I didn't think I could keep my eyes open several times. I tried to nap with him but he just nursed and then took off. What a milk thief. We are on a great schedule again though and it feels amazing! The older kids are working hard on their work everyday and are enjoying it!


The last time I wrote I mentioned a few things that I hadn't been able to do. I'm glad to say yesterday I made two pies with the kids and tonight I got the sewing machine running and made a couple small things.

After a good day of school work yesterday (but an insane crazy, busy, crying, wild Everett!) the kids helped me in the kitchen for hours in the afternoon. We made a big roasted chicken and mashed taters and gravy dinner. We also made a cherry raspberry and lemon meringue pie.



I made a playland for Everett by shoving an ironing board between two beds.

He runs, climbs and crawls for an hour on this thing.

Sage rolling out pie crust

Getting pies ready, that pie zipper bag, to roll perfectly round pie crusts out, is my favorite thing EVER!!!

Everett painting

Our decoupaged kitchen table and pies
Thursday was Layla's 7th day of school. She came home with a 100% on her spelling test. We didn't feel like she was given enough time to study but we worked with her and she pulled through. I texted Ricky a picture of her test and he replied back: holy shit! I told him that with his analytical brain and my stubbornness and attitude (and sassy charm ;) that kid has places to go. He said he always knew she was super smart, we just need to get her to use her power for good and not evil. He's been saying that since she was two! LOL! We are proud of her. She's doing so well. The sting of missing her wore off quickly last Wednesday and turned into me just wanting her home again, selfishly. But she's doing it and I'm truly glad for her. I'm still crazy shocked as to why anyone would want to sit at school all day, LOL. Because that's not me, I have to be moving around. But, if it's her thing then I'm glad and I am still nurturing and supporting her.

One day when Charlotte was four years old someone handed her a stick of celery. She ate every vegetable known to man except celery. It never occurred to me to buy it because I hated it. I bought lots of veggies that were just so-so to me, but I never bought celery because I'm repulsed by it. Even the smell is strong like black licorice to me! She ate it up. That was when I realized in order for children to experience life you have to be open to life. It's something we take to heart... "allowing" our children to explore life and form their own opinions without being told what they should think. Ricky and I don't express our deeply held beliefs aloud without following up with an explanation that they should learn all they can when they get older and then form their views with a open heart and mind.  I want my children to be who they are because that is who they are, not because somebody told them who to be. In our home we model strong morals and deep family values founded on commitment, love, and honesty. We model "Godly character" without shoving it down their throats, and you know what? They model it back. I don't think I have to scare my children into being good moral people with faith and values. I think that comes from within, and it develops over time with life experience and with good role models.

 I do scare them into cleaning their rooms, doing their chores and keeping the cat box clean though. LOL. ;) Haha. They'd tell you, that's all true...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Layla after school day 5, homeschool art & online time...

We had a really nice time at our homeschool playgroup today. We had to leave early to get home for Layla to get off the bus. We all thought it was strange not having Layla with us, she really would have enjoyed today. I was thankful that when she arrived home she didn't look as tired as yesterday evening.

She has a lot of homework. She has spelling and sight words to memorize by Thursday on top of some class work she didn't get done because in her words, "My teacher was too busy to help me so she said for you to help me at home." I kept my growling on the inside. So we had to do two phonics pages and had a small paper school book to read. With Charlotte this was a huge sore spot. In my opinion public schools don't have a good enough teacher to student ratio.  If you ask me kids should do school at school and not at home. In addition, I believe children should have homework very infrequently (besides reading) and I'm pretty much against spelling tests until 3rd grade or later (or when they want to sit for them). Wait! I'm pretty anti test in general (for many kids until older grades, every kid is different though of course). For these reasons and more we homeschool. But seriously, duh, if we liked the system: the homework, the hours, the tests, the sitting, our kids would all be in it. We don't, so they aren't. I asked her if she likes school, she still does. She has P.E. all week, she doesn't know why. I'm sure glad. Kids need to move around.

The first four days I was so glad she said she liked school. I'm already starting to get antsy for her to come home. I'd be much more relaxed if public schools didn't grade everything by tests and a standard. My kids are not standard. My kids are individuals. Boo standard. :(

Other things:
Art
When I signed Layla up for school last week the office ladies were super nice and even really nice about homeschooling. They inquired about what we did for music, art and P.E. I went into a several things we've done for music and P.E. over the years (homeschool band, recorder, piano, soccer, homeschool P.E., gymnastics, dance) but the conversation trailed into a different direction from there. I later realized I didn't touch on art. Art is very important in our house, VERY important! The kids do art everyday. We are also a super crafty family as well. Yesterday Charlotte, Sage and Ethan drew for three or more hours. I know at least the boys were working on the same picture the entire three hours! Ethan has been drawing for a very long time and using tons of tutorials online for years. He has read and done so many of them that he can recite some like an art teacher; I hadn't realized to what extent until yesterday. They boys sat next to each other and Ethan helped Sage step by step to draw a magnificent dragon. They first started with lines and circles, then connected them, then added detail, definition and then finally color. Sage used water color pencils to colorband paint his piece. I was stunned! Listening to Ethan explain everything was amazing! He really knew what he was talking about. Sage made a few alterations here and there to his picture (wanted his wings different) and Ethan supported him with kind remarks and encouragement. When Sage thought he had messed up on part of his picture I helped show him how to hide his mistake; he was so grateful and impressed. :) I cut out about half the stuff they were going to do for the day because they were just enjoying what they were doing so much. They were quiet, learning, engrossed, and happy.
Sebastian
Sebastian (3) just climbed over to Everett (1) rubbed his head and said, "Hi little cutey guy."

I just love that.

Online
I've gone 8 days without logging into facebook! I'm still feeling like facebook would be a distraction to me so I don't really have a lot of desire to log back on yet. I feel less *distracted. It's unfortunate because I do miss some things about it. :( I love the sense of community, keeping up with family, news updates, reading about things that both matter to me and don't matter to me, reading about friends, getting updates about sales, I miss wasting time, Etc. I just don't have the time. I don't know what I would have done having never watched the honey badger video on youtube, Antoine Dodson (I heart him), the only good Mighty Putty parody out there, Chuck Testa's commercial, or read the latest update from lamebook.com. (I just listed the most hilarious stupid guilty pleasures of my life.) And I can still see funny things, read emails, visit all the same websites...I'm just not ready to let the FB stream in my head again.

All I know is that each day ends with me not having time to sew, iron, paint, wash my hair or make pie. (All things I've wanted to do lately.) Everyday since Sunday I've told the kids, "We'll do science tomorrow." Everyday something has come up. I can't fit something into my life that I don't have time for. Not right now.  In eight days time I've been on the computer an average 1 hour per day. That's it. (Mostly blog related!)

Blogging is easy. Hardly anyone reads it and it feels good because I do it for me. Most importantly it's a keepsake I can save.

*What do I mean with my by "less distracted?" I mean more present with my family and my life. I feel like I'm not being pulled away to do or see other things anymore. I feel more focused. Facebook was like leaving the TV on all day and letting it filter in whatever it wanted to, accept worse. It served so many functions: humor, procrastination, socialization, news, education, shopping/sales updates. If I wanted to learn about my friends and family that was fun, but I'd get chatty and comment to everything. If I saw something funny I'd watch it. If I saw a good sale or product I liked I'd then spend time window shopping. I like the fast change. I change activities at home quickly, I'm an avid multitasker and I bore easily. If you watch me sometime, I don't sit still for long. I come from a long line of family members that are busy and piddle around the house constantly. It's what we do. The internet in general provides my brain with a constant stream of newness, facebook just put it all in one place.
Also, I wanted to be sympathetic to every persons stomach flu, ruined dinner plans, stressful day and sick dog. I commented or "liked" on every cute baby, good day, and fun outing. I liked the SOCIAL part. That's kinda the point of SOCIAL networking. It slowly just became too time consuming and distracting for me. So until I'm sure I can get on and off once a day without getting distracted I'm going to keep up with my break, it's so good for me!

Goodnight blogger land...

Monday, January 23, 2012

Public School Day 4, let's go

When I last wrote Layla had one of her classic meltdowns leaving her in a heap of anger and despair for seemingly no reason at all. She refused to attend her third day of school. I spent the morning trying to get her to go, she was really angry and wouldn't talk. Later she said it was triggered by her lunch. She gets like that about four times a week. You never know what will set her off, for how long, or what other anger helps it build up. The talk we had that morning I think helped her that day... eventually. This weekend when I thought about it I realized it's not as horrible as it could be. At least she rarely has back to back days when she's like that. The real challenge will be keeping her attendance up if she keeps going to public school for a substantial amount of time. I'm trying to explain to her she can't just stay home whenever she wants. It's not flexible like homeschool :(

We had a wonderful day Friday (after her bad mood went away) and I couldn't imagine her not being there for the school fun we at at home. It's really hard being open minded about her transition! I think she'll stay in public school for somewhere between 2 more days and 2 years. LOL. Like I've said previously, the ONLY way to approach Layla is one day at a time. 

The weekend was lovely. Layla was happy, kind, helpful and fun. Yesterday (Sunday) I took her to Target to buy some new school clothes and shoes. She has always had clothing problems so finding comfortable clothes and shoes is important to her well being. She's growing like a weed, when she started public school last week it was quickly evident she could use a few new things. We picked up lots of cute things and the first pair of tennis shoes she's had or liked in ages. That was such a relief because she hates nearly all shoes. We were alone --no baby even-- so we spent some nice time together and enjoyed an Icee and pretzel before we headed home. 

At home she tried on 15 combinations of outfit pieces in front of the mirror. It was darling. It feels so good to have clothes you like and that make you feel good!

She was all smiles and some seriousness this morning getting ready. I packed her bag up, didn't whisper a word about what was in her lunch and off she went. Watching her get on the bus is surreal. 

Her dad said, "Well now all we have to do is buy her new clothes every week and she'll go to school." haha. 

School at our house has been going really well. We have great momentum going. 

Everett is happily playing with a bird sound/identification handheld machine. He gets the biggest kick out of it. It's so cute. 

When I got home from the store with Layla he was chattering and squealing, MMMmmMAMAMAammmmamamamamaMAMA" It's SO freaking cute when they do that! I love being missed! 

Time to make the bed and grab some coffee and do school at our house.

I miss her... I love watching her get on and off the bus so confident and strong, but I miss her. I love to see her perfectly dressed and learning to tie her new shoes, but I miss her. I love to imagine she's enjoying school in a building with new people and new things to see, but I miss her. The other day I called her to the kitchen but she wasn't home... I miss her. 

UPDATE 10:20pm same day:
Layla's venture back at school went well. I felt bad she came home looking exhausted. I didn't expect her to want to go back when I saw the look on her face. It's a long day for her I'm sure. She's so used to drawing and playing for many hours of her day. She also wasn't very happy looking when she got home. I was worried at first. Once we gave her 10 minutes of space she started talking and settling in just fine. She brought home spelling words and sight words which she will be tested on this Thursday (no school this Friday). She played, had dinner and then got right to work.
Her dad and I quizzed her and helped her memorize some of her spelling and sight words. She is trying very hard. I'm stunned at what she's doing on her own --meaning how she is the one making the choice to go to public school. It's not like she's extremely social and loves being around people and school is a fantasy of hers. She's never mentioned going, she is quiet, she is an observer and she has never wanted to go anywhere without me (or another close family member). It's such a change! I'm amazed! But, she is an amazing girl.
I'm so tired...

Update: Layla's 5th day at school Jan 24, 2012

First homeschool outing without Layla today. Nothing big, but I still feel it.

She was happy this morning. It's STILL amazing seeing her get on the bus all by herself. Every morning I ask myself why she is doing this! lol. She's swimming with a big school of fish...and she doesn't say much but something has got to keep her going. I wonder if I'll ever know what it is.... :)

She is finally eating breakfast in the morning. She seems to be adapting to her new schedule. I enjoy getting up with her and just seeing her in the morning. Other kids are usually up too, but the focus is on her and we talk, get her stuff together, Etc. She is totally ready to go to bed each night at 8pm or so. Sometimes she says that it's time for bed all on her own.

Side note: Everett is making me crazy! And so is the barking dog. Everett was up late last night making me crazy. His sleep patterns have been off and crazy since we got back into town from Christmas. That trip ruined his schedule!

Friday, January 20, 2012

The first 3 days of Layla at public school...what a emotional ride. I can't believe I'm still standing.

Follow up to this post
We are now a homeschool and public school family...

DAY 1
Layla's first day of school I drove her, walked her in and we had breakfast together. She was calm, happy and very interested in everything. I noticed a TV in the lunch room and told myself to not pay attention to it being there, and on. I was really trying to be open minded. We enjoyed breakfast we brought, met the lunch ladies and went back to her class. At class they have a worksheet to do before actual school starts..this is the time when students arrive first thing or if they are coming from breakfast at school. I helped read Layla her directions (ABC order paper). A few students didn't seem to understand the ABC paper. When they asked the teacher she said you know ABC, look at the wall. I really like her, but I think a couple kids needed help, like right then. :/

Her teacher had Layla's desk all ready with crayons, folders, pencils and erasers. It was was very inviting. The students were chatting us up and were very friendly! Little kids were telling us what to do, giving us advice. (Big coats for outside and bring 50 cent pretzel money if you want one on Friday!) I was impressed by the sweet kids.

I left her and told her I'd return for lunch. When I showed up at lunch the class was already in the lunch room. (I thought about how not one teacher I had growing up ever sat in the cafeteria with the classroom and ate lunch. I think that would had been nice.)
I found Layla sitting with a couple girls. They had brought their lunches and as I sat down the girl sitting next to me said, "I told her you'd probably be here any minute." I thought that was incredibly sweet. I thanked her. Layla and I unpacked ham roll ups (cream cheese, lettuce, ham in rolled into a tortilla), juice and carrots. As we ate more children joined us. The table was about half boys and half girls. All of the first graders were nice, at least half of them chatted me up like little adults and had me in stitches! These kids were so well adjusted, polite, kind, friendly. I wish I could tell their parents. They told us stories about the year: fun things, pizza parties, pajama day, contests, they discussed who won various things, I learned of book fairs, and snacks at recess. Layla was reminded again about pretzel Friday. They had me laughing and smiling. Layla was quiet but engaged.

I chatted with Layla a bit and asked how recess was, she said they watched a movie.

A lunch lady we had not seen before started clearing tables, hushing kids and yelling at kids from afar. I leaned into Layla and told her I saw a mean lunch lady. Watch out for her, I joked. (No, seriously!)
I wondered why or how anyone who looked so cranky and talked so cranky would work with children. :( She was really looking nasty-mean at the children!

I'd be such a silly lunch lady...
"Quiet children or I'll release the crocodiles out into the lunch room, and you'll have no crocodile burgers for lunch tomorrow!"
"Hey stop throwing away food and eat what you take, or I'll put it in a doggie bag and tell your mother you're bringing home dinner tonight."
"Frog stew tomorrow!"
"Who is making all that noise? I'll have you rubbing my stinky feet after school."
"FOOD FIGHT!"

Ok kidding about the last one. But really, kids enjoy fun and silliness. It's not lost on them.

When our table was cleared we didn't get snarled at by the mean lady and we headed for line to wait to get taken back to class. While in line some lady stood waiting for the rest of the class to join us. The kids talked to me more. We were taken back to class and the kids told me and Layla that art was on Friday. They told us Layla needed shoes for P.E. A funny boy said he was not excited about dancing in P.E. This kid cracked me up, he was so cute and funny. He was really grown up for 1st grade lol. I could tell the lady taking us to class wished the kids would shut up. I was enjoying every minute of it. I suddenly remembered that I would have made a good elementary teacher ... or mom of seven. I was relieved to realize I was a mom of seven.

Once back at the classroom the lady who lead us there ordered the kids to sit NOW and draw, or finish up work. I told myself it was ok, just ignore her. Then she snapped for kids to get a book if they didn't have work. A dozen kids went to the book shelf including Layla. Instantly the lady said, "hurry!" and started counting, "1...2......3. Sit down."
She left the room. I was glad she left but then wondered why a classroom full of kids would be left alone after lunch. A student asked for my help to read him his homework. I helped him sound out words. Another student asked me to help him too. I helped him fill in the blanks with the right words. These two kids were really struggling with their papers. I enjoyed helping them and they seemed to really like me. I should be a teachers aide I thought. You know because I totally have time for that. ;)
I hate seeing kids struggle in school. I want to give them a lollipop and tell them to go outside and play. So far that's worked out okay at our house.

One boy said to me, "No more recesses, we are all done for the day." This was depressing to me. I was really proud of myself for being so open minded in this situation. I was really open to the idea that if Layla likes this then it's okay. I wasn't going to say one negative thing, I was going to put negative things in a file in my brain so I could record them on paper only.

I left Layla at school once her teacher was back in the room. I made sure Layla wanted to ride the bus home still an she did. The bus would drop her right off in front of our house.

Back at home we did our school and played catch up from the past two days being a whirlwind of crazy.

Once her bus arrival time was drawing near I bundled up and headed outside. Charlotte was excited and came out too. The other kids watched Everett and looked out the window. I saw the bus coming up our hill. Charlotte clutched her camera. We jumped up and down. We were so excited to watch Layla step off that bus! 

The bus came closer and closer and closer... it didn't stop. It went right by and it I felt like I was in a dream or a movie. I looked at the bus number. It was hers. I wanted to run after the bus, I told myself not to be crazy --she hadn't been kidnapped. Charlotte was in shock and said she thinks she saw Layla. My cell phone was in my pocket and I started dialing the school. Being after school time their phone was jammed. I called six times and couldn't get through. I told Charlotte to go in and watch the baby and that I'd drive to the school. I jumped in the Excursion and there were no keys. Charlotte wasn't in the house yet, I kept a sense of humor, laughed and said, "I'm trying to drive the car with no keys!" I dialed the school again and this time I got somebody. They told me they would call transportation right then. So I paced in my driveway in the cold and assured myself I wasn't THAT worried, she'd get home. The worst thing that would happen would be she'd be taken back to school. I was just so worried she was scared, that would be the worst thing, if she was really scared. Then I remembered this was Layla I was talking about, she's super tough. The school got back with me and the bus driver said he didn't get a bus pass from her, wasn't told by transportation that he had a new stop, and that he'd be at our house in 15 minutes. When they arrived the driver was super nice and explained again he didn't know and she should have a bus pass and he guesses they didn't give her one. She was fine but quiet. Everyone was excited to see her, she said hello to everyone and everything was fine. She smiled about the bus thing and said she wasn't too worried just confused. I asked her if she'd ride it again or if she wants me to take her/pick her up. She said shed ride again. I was impressed.

She did her homework readily as I explained in the first installment of the going to public school tale (link above). She was excited for another day.

DAY 2
Layla woke up easily and got ready quickly. This would be the first time she rode the bus to school. Everything went off without a hitch and she bugged me for a half hour after she was ready, "Is it time yet? How about now? Now? When?" She was looking forward to her day. I walked her out and the bus stopped and off she went. I was so proud. Then I cried a little.

I didn't like this. Not one bit. I wanted her back. I told myself I'd rather have her happy at school than home and miserable. I folded clothes and thought about the weekend. I had a moment of realizing 'Oh yeah! I get weekends with her.'  It was a weird moment. Charlotte complained that she was gone too long during the day, I agreed.

Aunt Sharon and Grandma Wanda were coming over to visit and play. They helped us fold our huge sock bag of mismatched socks. They helped fold hot laundry that I churned it out. We talked, had root beer floats and waited for Layla. Aunt Sharon brought us dinner to bake! A pan of lasagna, a pan of eggplant Parmesan and french bread. -Yes, I'm totalllly spoiled, tell me something I don't know :)

When her bus arrival time was close we went outside. Sharon was now jumping up and down at the side of the road in excitement. I loved it. I loved that she was as excited as Charlotte and I were yesterday. Then I told her that's exactly how I was until the bus drove by!!! (I called her while I was waiting for the bus, and we laughed nervously about it, so she was on the phone during it all!)

The bus pulled up and out popped our little Layla. The bus driver shouted out, "I won't forget this stop!" It was funny. (She still had no bus pass...?)

We bombarded Layla with hugs and questions and she was interested by some questions and ignored others. She got out her folder and showed me work. She got right to work on her homework.

Learning more about her day I found out she couldn't go outside because she didn't finish some work. I grumbled a little disapproving growl but then caught myself and quieted down. Charlotte reacted too and I had to shoosh her. I covered it and asked Layla how she felt about it. She replied, "I didn't care, I figured it was too cold out anyway." I later told Charlotte that we can't let our opinions shape hers. We can't tell her staying in is bad and wrong, that needs to come from her. This is an extremely  SORE spot for me and Charlotte because being made to stay in from recess was one of 3 huge reasons Charlotte came home from public school and never went back. It crushed her spirit.

Everything was fine that evening. Ricky helped her with her homework and then I read everyone stories. She looked happy and slept peacefully.

DAY 3
Layla woke up, got dressed and sat waiting. She didn't want breakfast (she's like me, hard to eat so early). I gave her her lunch and told her what was in it. She didn't like something. I asked her what. She ran out of the room.

I knew right there, the day was over. OVER. This kind of thing happens at our house 4x a week. Layla flips out.

I asked her what I could make different. She wouldn't talk. She was so angry she couldn't see straight. Was this about lunch? Probably not. Was it triggered by lunch, it looked like it. She has sensory issues and emotional issues and has since she was 2-3 months old. She said she didn't want to go to school, I couldn't get out of her why. I told her she needed to tell me why. She wouldn't. I gave her 15 minutes to cool off, nothing changed. I cried and told her it breaks my heart to see her like this, I told her I just want to help her. I told her I was angry when I was little too, and I didn't know why. I told her I could try and help her. Nothing. She was nothing but MAD. Usually if I can cry (and I rarely cry even when I'm sad) she is pulled out of this mood a little by sympathy for me. I texted Ricky about what was going on and he called me, which made me cry to him.

I pulled her outside and put her coat on her. I told her the bus was coming and she needed to tell me why she didn't want to go. I NEED a reason. I need to know WHY. She cried, hugged me and said, "I don't want to go Mommy!" If she calls me mommy she's scared, really sad, or in a super sweet mood. She sounded really sad. (Plus she was hugging me, she never does that when she's mad.) The bus came by and she ran inside. I waved the bus to pass us up.

Once inside it didn't take long for anger to come back. I noticed she had thrown her folder, her shoes and her lunch all over the living room. She had to unzip her backpack to get to the folder and lunch. She came out of the bathroom wearing her pajamas. She sulked on the couch in anger.

I made coffee. I did laundry. I tended to the other kids and we started our morning. Before it was time for school I asked her if she wanted me to drive her to school, it was a no. I periodically asked her if she wanted me to drive her to school.

I called the school and talked to the counselor explaining about her mood issues and sensory issues as a baby. I wanted to keep an open line of communication going and let the school know Layla may be fine one day and not the next and that I was going to do everything I could to get her back to class. The last thing I need is a school barking truancy down my neck, which I truly don't see as an issue. The lady was very attentive and kind. She seemed very perceptive and laughed and agreed at all the right times and when I was using flippant laughter. (Like about nature vs nurture and how did this happen when we did everything right.) The lady asked if I wanted to force Layla into school with help, and leave her there. I told her I wasn't against that idea when it seems right for the right type of child but Layla has never done well with that. I explained that I had left her at homeschool classes, and gym before with bad results. She said something like, 'then that will not work.' I was glad she trusted me about it. In the end she suggested we talk to our family Dr. in case they had recommendations for counselling. I thought it was cool she threw the ball back in my court after our discussion.

After a while Layla was mean to one of the little kids, I don't remember who, so I told her she can't be around us. I took her upstairs three times before she stayed there. After about a half hour I was on my bed with Everett watching Sebastian and Penelope do online school together. Layla came into my room and I convinced her to lay in bed with me and Everett. She was angry for a few minutes but then giggled at Everett's baby charm. (He often brings her out of a bad mood with baby cuteness). I told her it was snack time at school and almost recess. I asked her if I could take her now. Nope. I tried to talk to her about what was so upsetting and how she felt and why. She wasn't interested. She told me she wasn't going back to school.

 She started getting back to her normal self and didn't have anger anymore. I let a half hour go by and I tried having a heart to heart with her about her anger. I explained that when she was little (from 3 months to 4 years old) I could soothe her. She was sad and mad a lot, but she always had me. She nursed when she was a sad, hungry or lonely baby and she held my hair and rubbed it on her face. I told her how she loved my hair (I knew that she vividly remembers that). I told her we could never figure out why she would be so upset even back then. I said, "Sometimes bad things happen to kids and it hurts them and makes them sad and angry, but we could never figure out what was making you so mad and sad because you were with us all the time. No one was hurting you or being mean to you. You weren't in a home that had fighting or anger... So what we did was kept loving you, and kept helping you because it was what you needed even if we didn't understand why, and even though it was hard that you needed me ALL the time I still did it." I explained to her that when she was away from me she'd cry uncontrollably. She listened and looked me in the eyes. I told her that now she is bigger she doesn't have a way to deal with the bad feelings, anger and sadness she gets. I told her that for a long time she has been doing it all alone and it seems to make her feel lonely and even angrier. She listened more. I told her we just had to find a way that she could deal better, anything to help her feel safe while she feels this way. Tomorrow I'll talk to her again about it and see if it helped at all. Tomorrow we are also going to try and buy P.E. shoes.

The rest of the day was a perfect homeschool day. I couldn't have imagined it without her. Even if I was actually trying over and over throughout the day to get her back to school. :(

We had a lot of fun. We learned about robots, made tin can robots, did an assignment about robots, we had a robot parade in the house with our robots to the They Might Be Giants song, Robot Parade! (blog post about it will follow) While I made dinner Layla wanted to read to me. She read two books for her public school reading log.

It's the weekend. Rest, love, and peace to the house. 
We will deal with this how we've always been dealing...

one 
   day
      at 
        a
          time ... 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

We are now a homeschool and public school family...

I’m waiting by the front window. I’m waiting for Layla to get off the bus from her first day of first grade. Yesterday I asked Layla to do her time4learning program for the 20th time in a week. She didn’t want to, again. She had begged and bothered me to start paying for that online school service again (she did it last year). I finally signed her up again. She did it for 3 days and quit. She said it was too easy and I told her she needed to move up a level then. She didn’t want to. When Layla gets it in her head that she doesn’t like something it sticks for a long while. She is very smart but very impatient and stubborn. Last year she asked me to teach her to tell time. She was really grasping it when suddenly one day she didn’t want to learn it anymore. She picked up books instead and taught herself to read. She did some phonics worksheets but not all the time, mostly she picked up books, asked for help when she got stuck on a word and taught herself to read. Recently she wanted to count money. We started on it a bit, talked about place value and within a couple days she thought the whole thing was dumb. She’s been unhappy, restless , moody, and angry for months. She flew into this world with very a particular set of rules and expectations, none of which she shared with us, we just have to guess them along the way.

She has always had tactile sensory issues. She can’t stand certain clothes, shoes and socks. Tags, seams, bumps, certain clothes and some car and/or booster seats can all send her into a frustrated rage. when she was 2 she'd try on everything she owned -by herself- and cry because nothing felt right. We were shocked. She’d scream as a small baby until I’d finally undress her (this helped sometimes, not always). She seemed to always be under or over stimulated. As a baby she slept a good 8 hours a night but only 10-20 minutes a day. Even as a 4 week old she only slept 10-20 minutes a day. To make things harder I was the only person who she’d have anything to do with until she was 18 months old. She loved her Daddy from a distance but he couldn't hold her after she was about 2 months old. It was a very hard time, I felt lucky she has an amazing Daddy who loves her and respected her without doubting her or me about her needs. To most people she would seem liked a “spoiled brat.” To me she was desperate for me, and when she didn’t have me she’d hyperventilate (seriously). It was confusing to me because everything in her life was perfect. Mommy at home, loving daddy, happy house, a safe, fun environment. We joked that children who have been abandoned fared better than she did! As a baby she became obsessed with my hair and had to hold it it in order to feel safe and secure, as if it were a blanket or stuffed animal. We had to go through a lot with her over the years and the only way we made it was taking it one day at a time. She is now usually: talkative, helpful, bright, witty, funny, and a fantastic sister and daughter. Those mood swings she has are killer though. It’s like a switch gets turned on and so does rage. We’ve researched middle child syndrome, we’ve tried to help her in case that was the problem because a general feeling of unhappiness has struck her this past year. Nothing seemed to work. I was once a very angry child who, when having an ‘on’ day, was also fun to be around. Watch out if it was an off day. The rage, sadness, confusion and anger just couldn’t be explained when I was a child either. It’s kind of like depression, many people don’t know why they have it or what to do about it -except this is just a cranky, horrible, bad feeling mood swing. I recognize her moods.

At the beginning of this school year I didn’t listen to a little voice in my head that told me she’d enjoy, even thrive, in a classroom environment. I didn’t listen to myself when I asked the question: What is best for Layla *right now*? The answer was: A good school that’s not at home. Ricky and I were very close to enrolling her but our own homeschool routine started back up early and Layla was doing well. She was learning, having fun and I couldn’t imagine her away from our homeschool family dynamic. I’ve had a terrible time in the past with Sage. We got through his insecurities, difficulty learning, his lack of drive, his laziness, his developmental delays (according to public school standards, us homeschoolers just call “delays” learning at your own pace). I figured Layla was just another tough cookie and we’d get through it. I’d let her unschool her way to success. The problem with this plan was she became more and more unhappy at home. I tried one on one time, I tried special outings and days just with her, I tried leaving her alone, I tried more structure, then less structure. Nothing seemed to click with her. Recently with her building boredom and flip flop of wanting school work and then practically throwing it in my face I knew we needed a change. When I sat with her yesterday morning with a heap of base 10 blocks talking about place value she seemed interested, for 30 seconds. She suddenly whined and stormed off with an angry tone. I told her I’d call the public school if she wanted and she could go there. It wasn’t a threat, it was an offer. An offer she gobbled up. I asked if she was sure. She said she was. Before I knew it I was on the phone with the assistant principal of the small town school a mile away. A few hours later we were filling out paperwork, meeting her teacher and seeing her classroom. Layla was happy, excited and ready for this adventure. At home her brothers and sisters were excited for her, too. I knew going in that this school is supposed to be a very good school. What I saw when we visited was outstanding. (I have a few gripes, but what I like is outweighing them for now.) Her teacher is kind and understanding. She seemed ready for the challenge of a mid year self taught reader and homeschooled (primarily unschooled) student. I took Layla this morning for her first day and had breakfast with her and then showed back up for lunch with her too. These are the highlights:

  • The school welcomes parents for visits. The cafeteria has a sign in the food line that says “Welcome Parents.” I love.
  • All the main lunch ladies said hi to her and told her to ask if she needs help.
  • I’m allowed to visit anytime. A huge change from Charlotte’s time spent at a public school years ago.
  • The kids could talk during lunch -again different from Charlotte’s time in the pen. lol. :)
  • The children were polite, friendly and helpful
  • Parents are encouraged to have breakfast / lunch with their children
  • Children at Layla’s table talked about their parents having lunch with them from time to time.
  • I saw a mission statement sign from the school district that said children should receive individualized instruction, among other things. That’s the item that stood out to me.
  • The school has an emphasis on respect and manners.
  • Children were eager to help and told me Layla needs to bring pretzel money for pretzel Friday - fifty cents.
  • At lunch the kids at her table were kind and told me all the fun things they have done so far this year. Pizza parties, donut tied to a string eating contest, movie nights, earning reading rewards, Etc. They all sounded happy.
  • A funny boy told me she needs tennis shoes for P.E. He said, “We’re doing dancing right now, I’m not excited about it at all.” It cracked me up.
  • Her teacher told her if she doesn’t understand something or doesn’t get the review stuff they were doing today she could draw.
  • The school reminded me of a charter school -in the way that it had a strong community feel, strong emphasis on parental involvement. Very small town feel.
  • The school has won a very neat award. I don’t want to go into it because I try and keep my location online somewhat private.
  • As far as schools go, I really like it.
  • I love a small community school, the office ladies spoke of that too.
  • The kids I talked to today I REALLY enjoyed. Many of them were hilarious. After lunch I helped a couple of them with reading their papers in class. (And now I want to be a parent helper --because I have time to help 16 other kids, right. LOL ;)

So will Layla tire of this? Will it end up being a mistake? Will she go again next year? When will she come back and be home taught again? What if she is never happy? How long until getting up for school is a “you have to right now” issue?

We have to handle this like we’ve always handled Layla...one day at a time. Right now she’s happy. My eyes flooded with tears when I left her at school today, I miss her. BUT nobody said this mommy thing was easy. It just goes to show I don’t have as thick of skin as I thought when it comes to her. (Over the years I’ve been preparing myself for Layla running away and join in the circus when she’s sixteen, or something).

What's wildly strange is that we took Charlotte out of public school because she was unhappy, and here we are all these years later putting Layla in public school because she seems unhappy. People are all so different. Which leads me to this thought; if public school isn't a fit for every kid then homeschooling isn't either.

Tomorrow I’ll write about her first and second day, riding the bus, and anything else that happens.
This will be so funny if she decides to quit next week. lol. (no not really!)

A few more things:
I adore that she wants to ride the bus. Sure, it makes my life easier, but it's also SO typical of her to want to jump right in feet first and ride the bus. That’s the part I adore. Also, the bus picks her up and drops her off right at our house, perfect! Can you imagine her explaining to her friends on the bus why a yard full of kids greet her everyday. Hahaha.
I enjoyed hearing her get home today and say hi to everyone.
I'm actually completely shell shocked by all of this. It happened SO fast. It's like a dream and it's really weird. I've been extremely busy running back and forth to her school (only a mile away), holding down the household here, homeschooling, and trying to overcome a lot of chores this week. I'm not sure any of this has sunk in and I might have a mini emotional breakdown soon. (Not like a bad one lol, I'm just in a whirlwind of crazy busy overwhelm right now and I feel so exhausted. )
I told the kids I was thinking about putting Sebastian in half day preschool two days a week because he is making me crazy (we are having a hard time getting school work done with him around right now) and Sage quips "Geez mom you're just shipping everybody off aren't you?" It was hilarious.

The whole thing about place value that I wrote about above? Where I tried to teach her yesterday with base 10 blocks and she thought it was dumb. That is THE thing that set off a chain reaction of her going to public school. Well, she brought home a worksheet from today doing the exact same thing. She did the paper front and back and liked it. It sure helped me feel better this is right for now. She also read 3 books tonight for her reading log. My baby-girl's going to school...wow.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

My life called, it wants my full attention back

My family needs my full attention this week. And the week after, and forever. I decided they did.

I decided in part because facebook is way too distracting for me and I spend way to much time online during week days and nights. Last night I abruptly decided I'd go the rest of the week, Tuesday the 17th through Sunday the 22nd, without logging in once.

My decision was so abrupt that today I asked my hubby to log into my account and let friends and family know they can reach my on email only. I made the decision last night when I got bummed out that I had too many unfinished projects. I went to the basement to look for a can of paint -to start another project- and realized what a mess the basement was becoming again. I had Halloween stuff still piled in a corner waiting to be packed back into bins, Easter eggs lay dumped from a basket, winter clothes were everywhere, and Christmas stuff now blocked all those things. Winter clothes were sticking out of plastic tubs as a sign that pretty much anything we needed from the past 6 months hadn’t made it back into it's neat and tidy mold proof containers. Sometimes I feel so defeated by life. I try so hard and I work so hard towards an organized and tidy home that I get bummed when I see a sloppy lazy mess like that. So last night I started cleaning up the storage corner and repacking everything away. In my frenzy I realized that I can not expect to do everything I do with as many distractions as I seem to have by getting online. I made the decision right there to do the things I really want to do this week instead of numbing my mind on the web.

I use the internet to "check out" during crazy kid weeks and hectic but boring days. My mind numbing outlet is internet consumption, like lots of people do with TV or video games. I spend almost no time watching TV so most of my screen time is the internet. On any given day between about 7am and 11pm I’ll spend 3-5 hours reading facebook related posts. This includes news stories, health stories, funny cartoons, funny websites, watching youtube videos, talking to friends via posts (I don’t chat), reading blogs, and searching for any other interesting things I learn about along the way. That time frame probably applies to email use, Pintrest and maybe even writing some blog posts. (All of which are not huge time sucks for me.) Email is quick for me, Pintrest I’m in and out easily even though I LOVE it, writing blogs I enjoy and are beneficial because they are written for our family. I love writing. I love documenting our life. A day doesn’t go by that I don’t day dream about my kids and their kids’ kids and their kids’ kids reading about our life. (Technically writing is computer usage, not internet usage. It only takes a second of internet to post.)

So, I was pondering over why Facebook is such a time suck for me. The constant changing, constant newness and never ending entertainment pulls me in. It’s like all those projects I start up and eventually finish, but only after I start 15 more at a time. I’m not content. The attention deficit, talkative Aries in me loves the constant change as well as interesting surroundings, people and scenery. I truly want to know what my friends and loved ones are doing, but I also want to know everything else in between. It’s part entertainment that I can get on any given day and at any given time and it’s part procrastination -when I’m just tired of washing 10 loads of laundry throughout the week with a biting, cranky teething baby on my hip I just wanna sit and rebel against it!

Ahh procrastination. How I love thee.

Not really. Procrastination makes me feel yucky. Not only am I not getting something done, that cranky baby is often times a really happy baby.

I stopped to think all this over and asked myself what I was trying to avoid. Sure I get tired of certain things, everyone does no matter what they do or how much they love it. When I avoid things I get concerned that I’m “avoiding life” and/or I’m procrastinating because I’m not happy with my life. In short I had a talk with myself and I’m happy... I love staying home, cooking, baking, keeping house, playing with kids all day, homeschooling, I adore my husband, I love being a mom... I just need to get my priorities straight.

Most important priorities: Husband/ kids, school, house. According to this formula internet should never be the first thing I do when I wake up in the morning.

So I asked myself what I should fill my morning with instead. Coffee. 
I’m kidding (mostly). Seriously though, I came up with things I say I never have time for: exercise, stretching, shower, pedicure, plucking my eyebrows, getting dressed, curling my hair, ironing my apron (yes I just said that -I have this one apron that is so cute but it comes out of the wash looking like crap).

Magically I realized all of those things have to do with … ME. Taking care of myself. What an amazing self discovery!

What I mainly realized is it’s just a bad habit to check facebook and stay on reading things...and then to go back and check it again and again. Just a habit. When do I check it? When I first wake up, after breakfast, when I nurse the baby, before lunch, after lunch, nursing baby again, in the evening for *just a minute*, and at night when everyone is in bed. Each and every time I nurse the baby I stay on for a half hour or more. Instead while I nurse Everett I could be checking the kids’ school papers, reading to the the kids, writing something of real substance (like blogs!), OR laying down with the baby for a moment of being still and quiet. It’s okay to be still and quiet. I'm a go-go-go person, I want constant stimulation it seems like. I may have the brain of a 3 year old.

Today I was on the internet for about 25 minutes total, not including tonight while writing this. Most of that was spent printing up worksheets for the kids. My life feels better already and I have no idea how I could have spared another second of time for anything else today. I didn’t even spend as much time with Penelope and Sebastian as I wanted to. (But we made BIG gingerbread boy cookies together at least.) It was a long, busy day. Dinner was even served late (I made ginger-honey-chicken with broccoli and rice).

I want 3-5 hours of my life back, I have a lot of use for it.

Lots of changes ahead.
This is just the tip of the ice berg though, big change I need to put on paper tomorrow... (no not a baby!)




Follow up to no facebook for 6 days. Posted 1-23-12

When I wrote the first sentence of this blog post I had no idea how true that statement was

"My family needs my full attention this week." 

Soon after that Layla stated public school and with it a whirlwind of events and emotions trickled down. Cutting out facebook from my daily routine is the best thing I've done in a long, long time. It changed my life. My focus was on my household, my husband, my children and my writing and logging of day to day things I like to record for our memories. 

I miss everyone on FB but it's over shadowed by how I miss Layla right now so it makes it easier.

Today is my official day I'm "allowed" to log back on to facebook and I don't desire too. I desire to see my friends, but I don't desire to lose the time. There was a time that Sage, 12, couldn't play video games. It took his attention from too many other things...it made him agitated, and scatterbrained. It made him unhappy more than it made him happy. I saw that pattern with how much I used facebook. It's so good for so many reasons, but it's bad for me for lots too. The only real thing I've decided is that I can't spend any daytime hours logging into it. It's just too time consuming for me because I have the computer at my fingertips all day with homeschool stuff so it's just too easy for me to get on and stay on. 

My husband recently told me he is only checking his work email twice a day. He was in the habit of checking it as emails come in or every half hour... it was really distracting to what he was already doing. This is exactly what I was letting myself do with facebook. If I was checking: the weather, had a recipe to look up, needed to look up a medical question or a history question, if I had a kids school worksheet to print up or a learning site for the kids to log into I did it all while "peeking" at facebook "real quick." Sometimes it was real quick, other times (many times) it wasn't. It was so distracting. 

My life, my focus, my happiness, my routine is 100x better when I do not have that distraction! 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Big wonderful, amazing, magical Christmas Surprises!

Las Vegas was an absolutely fantastic time. Everything fell into place; it was an easy peasy, extra fun, trouble free, perfect trip there and back. Seeing my family was amazing. So many people to visit with and enjoy. So many people loving to see the kids and to share Christmas cheer with. Christmas morning couldn't have been better, the kids had so much fun, then the truly unexpected happened.

Rewind back to the day we left for Vegas:
I walked our house sitter Erin through our house as I explained to her the unpleasantness of our really janky toilet situation. The upstairs toilet hadn't worked in a year. We had it fixed once but it soon started having a leaking problem again. We needed to eventually call someone to look at it again but decided it was most likely just the toilet that was leaking. The downstairs toilet over the past year has been working less and less well. Finally it got to the point that we had to pour a half a pitcher of water down it, while simultaneously holding the flusher down in order to get solids to go down. Pee would go down, just maybe not your toilet paper. We lived like this for a long time partly out of not knowing where to begin (we usually try to fix things ourself first) and partly out of the costs involved. We also have a 'well things could be worse' attitude about life - makes things easier that way. We live in a very old house and we are do-it-yourselfers. If it can't be fixed by us then we live with it for usually as long as possible. The toilet thing was really getting crazy though. We needed new toilets.

The dishwasher situation wasn't much better. Our frugal side kept us buying used dish washers on Craigslist. They'd last a couple years but we only had to spend 20-60 bucks on them! This is what big families do. Families of nine don't go out and buy new dishwashers on a whim. ;) This last one we nabbed for 20 bucks was a real pain though. It wasn't cleaning anything. The kids complained. I told them to be happy we even have one. Besides, limping by builds character.

Once our character was built up some and we had limped and limped by a good long while someone put a call into Santa and Santa must have put a call into my parents (because he doesn't make appliances at his workshop).
On Christmas morning 1200 miles away from our home we opened a present that had a toilet seat inside! Attached to it was an invoice for 2 toilets for our house. In another box was dishwasher soap and an invoice for a dishwasher already purchased.

I was so shocked I could have fell over. It was UNBELIEVABLE! We were so excited. (Not kidding THE FIRST thing we did when we arrived at my parents was comment about how we have "working toilets here" and how nice it was to not deal with our freaking toilets at home.)
We were so grateful and felt so blessed and loved to receive such a helpful and amazing gift for our family.
A Toilet Seat!
The last gift we unwrapped was this piece of paper:
My shocked face opening the above paper. See how happy and surprised we are. Awesome.

What went through my head: "Are you kidding me, Ricky doesn't have to install all of this???!!!!"
What went through Ricky's head: "THANK GOD I don't have to install this, all of this would take forever!" (And it would have, we did need a little plumbing work done after all, and without the tools and experience it would have been a headache and we probably would have been with no toilet for more than a day -or 5!! lol.)

At some point I cried happy tears!
Then more of the story and gift started to unfold ...
Before we left for Vegas my parents asked several times who was house sitting for us. I did not ever think anything of it but I never gave them a name I just kept explaining she was a good friend who had three little boys and she's a great person... Finally my dad asked me over the phone, "What's her name?" I never thought it was weird. I thought it was out of character of my dad, but not weird. I told him, "Erin."

I had no clue my parents, being the sneaky sneaks they are, were trying to hunt Erin down. My mom found her through my facebook and asked her if they could talk on the phone... she set the whole entire thing up with Erin. Plumbers were to come the day after Christmas to install everything. So when we got home we would have it all already done. The entire time I was telling Erin about our Janky situation during the house sitting walk through she was smiling on the inside. She said that it was so much fun watching me explain everything and I agree, it was! I love thinking about it.

I realized immediately I now didn't have to mess with setting up appointments, putting the dogs up, wrangling the kids, having the water turned off. My house sitter had it all covered. I felt like a princess. When I talked to her on the phone Christmas day and told her I knew everything it was really fun. She was so happy for us and thought the whole thing was wonderful. It was. Everything was WONDERFUL.
When we got home from our trip we had a stomach bug so the new toilets got use right away! LOL! They flush so fast. It's fantastic. To be so excited about toilets is hilarious! I called a very good friend of ours, a family we enjoy having over, and told them the news right away. They had just been to our house before we left on our trip. We are so happy we can have company over without telling people they'd be better off just not pooping at our house. Hahahaaaaaa.


Because of the excitement I can't remember which surprise came first but the surprises just kept on coming! I believe this is what happened next...

My sister, Heather, the youngest of us five kids gave every household a tall package. Inside was a frame full of old pictures. Everyone loves old pictures! Childhood pictures of myself, my family. It's really special and priceless. She made several for our parents. One of each of their sides of the family, one of just them, and one of them and their 5 kids. The hours she poured into it was unbelievable.

Then everyone, one per household, opened up a tiny gift box. Inside was a flash drive. She explained that she had scanned, over the course of just about a month, 12,000+ old photos from mom and dads photo albums and photo storage. Baby photos of them, of us, family pictures and thousands of old snap shots now all digital and on the drive we each held. It was unbelievable. I knew instantly the amount of work that was. I cried! Her fingers hurt, her eyes were seeing nothing but pictures, she was sleep deprived. I'm a picture person and I spend a lot of time on my pictures. I can not imagine taking on a project like she did. For an entire day I was in shock that I now had all those treasured photographs. I love pictures. Memories are so important to me. It's why I write this blog and it's why I take insane amounts of pictures.







What a blessing my family is, and what a beautiful time we had. Both those gifts are life changing to us. The appliances because they make our life easier and better, the photos because they are treasures that can be passed on for generations to come. I can't wait to put some old photos on our walls!

 Photos of my dad
My Great Grandma
My Grandma reading to her kids
My Aunts!
My Uncle Doyle

5 kids (I'm the oldest)
My sister, Christy, and me
12,000 photos... can you imagine?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The really golden moments: a weeks worth of joy and pain

LAYLA
I'm laughing because after I announced that Thursday would be baked potato bar night Layla, 7, dramatically said, "Ohhh no not baked potato bar night, I always have a problem on baked potato night." She says this kind of stuff in a really cute way.
Then we had a good laugh about it. Layla has really moody moods and really hard times with certain situations. I can't find a pattern or reason to it. I had a difficult time growing up so I can only guess it's something like I had to go through. She gets so frustrated and it's hard and impossible for her to understand why. She does have certain triggers but most of the time her moods and anger come on when we are least prepared for it. She has a point though, baked potato night is a hard night for her because the last 2 or 3 she was in BAD moods and didn't eat. She and I had a laugh about it and talked about how we'd just need to make sure she didn't have a bad night.
SEBASTIAN
I just walked by the bathroom and Sebastian, 3, was naked and 'mummy wrapping' himself with toilet paper, the best part was the toilet paper was still on the roll attached to the wall. He was twirling around in circles and I watched. It was so cute...by the time I ran for the camera he was done and just looking at me sheepishly with a pile of toilet paper at his feet. That kid is so funny.
What are some of the best words I can hear from three year old Sebastian?
 "Hold me Mommy." I love those three little words. He's Captain America, a knight, a builder, Superman and a T-rex by day. But, at night he's my baby boy. After a few minutes he said some more sweet words I always love, "Lay down with me." Ever since I could remember he closes his eyes, puts his head to mine and wiggles into bed to get cozy. He nods his head up and down as he nuzzles into my head. Then if he is actually sleepy he simply goes to sleep. I never tire of how cute it is.

Sage comes in the kitchen and says, "Mom, what's today?" Sebastian says, "Banana bread day." heheh. We had banana bread in the oven at the time.
PENELOPE
Five year old Penelope made me laugh today when out of the blue she said, "Mom remember you said you should have another baby if the world's going to end anyway." We were talking about the Mayan calendar the other day...hahaha. Remember that kids are always listening!
BABIES and their sibligs
The other day I was thinking about the keen sense and ear my kids have for little Everett. A stifled baby cough from the next room and I have some kid checking on him (or telling me about it) because it sounds like he could be choking. A dining room table full of kids who are all busy drawing will stop what they are doing when Everett races to the front door that is open; one kid will jump up and intercept his fast feet. An echoed baby voice is recognized from another room and a kid will rescue Everett because he's climbed up a chair and is now dancing on the table top. Any one of our kids ages 3 through 15 will merely walk into the same room as Everett take one look at him and exclaim, "Everett do you have something in your mouth!? What do you have?" I will never forget how awesome it is to watch these kids be so connected to him.
Sure it helps me immensely, and they've learned it from me asking for help from them. But, I love that it shapes who these kids are. They are so aware of so many other people in the home. They all are just ga-ga over him, too. Everyday every single kid calls him cute, plays with him, laughs at him, holds him, and cares for him in some way. Every single day. I never want to forget that, it's a wonderful thing. Children and babies bring even each other tons of joy.
EVERETT
Everett is getting so big. It was just yesterday I was rocking him and soothing him to sleep when I thought about how much he is still my baby. I'm so glad for it too! This is the last really super solid year before he becomes a REAL toddler. Then today seeing him in his car seat he looked huge. His legs are so big. his hands are so chubby. His fat fingers grab things all the time. He can turn lights on and off when lifted up (a game he likes). He says, "light!" He says a few words here and there. He says "side" when he wants to go outside --which is always. He says eat and drink although it's hard to understand. When you give him something and say, "Here you go." He says, "tank" for thank you. Its SO cute. But If you don't say "here you go" he just looks at you waiting for you to say your line first because that's his cue to say "tank." It's hilarious.
Everett has been teething and it's just awful for him. His teeth are coming in sooo slow. He screamed for an hour tonight and finally settled down to nurse. I feel like nursing him sedates him through the night. Luckily at bed time the pain reliever I give him gets him a few hours of good, solid rest. In the wee morning hours he seems to cope by nursing several times. One morning he was sleeping next to me with his little chunky hand on his cheek and once in a while he'd cry out and then go back to sleep.  
FUCKING SAVE ME
Tonight I texted my husband the following: Fucking save me!!!
He called me an hour later and told me he was on his way to save me. I told him everything the little kids had been doing; grabbing each other, pushing each other, laughing at each other, peeing on each other (Sebastian peed on Penelope because she was too loud, Huh?), crying at each other, screaming at each other, running, jumping, yelling, fighting, being silly, being mean, being INSANELY CRAZY and bringing the house down loud.
My dear husband said, "Ok! Put a beer in the freezer, because that is like my spinach and I'm coming to save you."
LOL. I loooove him. I feel better already.
Even Everett is in on the wild crazy action, he's biting and hitting when they act like this, and no wonder because he sees them hit and yell. In addition teething makes him act mean just like Sebastian did when he was teething. It just seems like any problem between siblings in the hous makes Everett act out. Usually when the kids act like this they've been watching too much TV or I haven't had enough structure for them. TV off day tomorrow!!!!!! And I feel like we've had structure, but I could do better. Tomorrow/this week we'll try 2 crafts a day, upstairs playtime (which is a huge pain because they don't stay up there unless I go too), outside time and kid yoga.