Friday, September 26, 2014

Dinner Conversation

"As our program begins, we join the Hudson family dinner already in progress . . ." 

Ana: "WAAAA!" - I'm hungry!  I'm starving!  Nobody cares about the starving baby!!

Dee: "We are eating chicken muscle, cool!"

Ana: "WAAAA!! - "What's this, pig slop?  I think they call it 'green beans'.  It looks like snot . . ."

Dee: "If I was made out of one giant muscle, I could wiggle my ear just like a finger.
Ana: "WAAA-THTTTT!" - "Keep the green stuff rolling.  This joint has terrible service.  I hope they aren't expecting a tip."

Alvin: "Hey, I found the bullet hole!  This is where the chicken was shot!!"

Ana: WAAAA-ACK-WAAA - "Seriously, what part of 'waa' does she not understand?!  I am obviously full, but every time I open my mouth to tell her, she shoves more food into it."

Elle: "I lost my ice, I lost my ice!  It was right there in my cup and now it's goooone!!!" (dissolves into tears)

Mom: "Okay, it's time to get cleaned up, everyone.  Ana, you are done!  Actually, I'm done.  Time for bed."

Ana: "WAAAAAA!!!!!" - "I could go for some milk . . ."

Happy Friday Night, y'all! 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

It's A Jungle Over Here

"God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.

Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea."

Psalm 46:1-2

The earth is quaking and trembling around here.  And it's not just because I live in Oklahoma!
Every day this week has brought a fresh and totally unexpected trial.  Sure, the first several days the trials were pretty small.  As in, the local grocery store didn't have the advertised picnic roast that I had planned on purchasing at $1.79 a pound.  Disaster with a capital D!  Of course, this is my Hormonal Crazy Lady Week, as my darling husband has repeatedly pointed out . . .  But from Wednesday on, this has been a whole different ball game.

I am in awe of all that has happened.

I am in awe of all that my God has done.

There is so much I can't say.

I have neither the permission nor the ability.  And, some things just haven't reach a conclusion.

You might could say, "Stayed tuned for The Rest Of The Story".  I just don't know how or when that story will conclude. 

Nevertheless, God is still our refuge and our strength.  Come what may, He is my only foundation.  And the couple dozen times I forgot that and reached for a life rope, it has crumbled into a poison ivy vine in my hands.  

Please forgive the weird metaphor.  I grew up in the country, climbing trees and swinging like Tarzan.  I have climbed a few poison ivy vines.  It's never a good idea.

Anyways, it's been a rough week.  I needed out of the house!  
I wanted some fresh air! 
Wide open spaces!
Exhausted and smelly children!

 A trip to the zoo was clearly in order.

A field trip to the zoo with our church homeschool group had been in the works for a month.  It wound up being postponed.  Since our family has a zoo pass, I decided to forge ahead on my own.

This is my "Taking Five Children To The Zoo By My Self" Game Face

 Cy made the PBJ's.  I filled the water bottles.  Then I made power smoothies to drink on the way.  Best decision of the day!  I am going to remember that trick.  We arrived at the zoo fashionably late, at 12:30.  Since we had just inhaled a Chocolate Raspberry Banana smoothie, we were reasonably full and able to meander at will.

Meandering is the second secret to a happy zoo trip.  Take time to smell the monkey poo . . .

Elle has perfected the art of Meandering

Alvin looks so much like my dad at this age :-)

She can be sweet . . .

. . .Or sour!

 We had a gorgeously cool and overcast day.  All the animals were out.  We got to witness a Rhino fight, hear the Lions roar and watch a carnivorous bird eat a rat!

Alvin narrowly escaped being eaten by a dinosaur . . .

The Aldabra Tortoise is one of my favorite critters!

This is another one of my favorite critters!  

Dee was hoping I would let everyone know, he is hanging by one arm fairly high off the ground, suspended by a slender bamboo shoot.  I call him my Lemur.

Ana just soaked it all in.  She was an absolute angel all day.  Happy 7 Month Birthday, Ana-kins!

I just thought I was going to get a National Geographic shot
It is impossible to stay down for long with this crew.  I thank God for my sticky, overstimulated little blessings.  

It was a good day!

It will be a good tomorrow.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Wake Me When September Ends

I really do love September.

I think we covered that two posts ago . . .

I  guess that's why it's always a shock when I find myself unusually emotional come mid September of every year.

My heart remembers, even when my mind has done it's best to forget.

You would think that four years and two beautiful girls later, September 18th wouldn't be such a big deal.

You would think that I could count my blessings, stay positive and just live through the day like any other.

I certainly thought that.

And yet, every year I prove myself wrong.

It begins on September 11th.  A Day Of Remembrance.  The whole world remembers the terror, the loss of life, the heroes.  I remember a perfect day at the museum with my family.

And I remember the disconnect from one Saturday to the next.  When everything fell apart.  When I realized the path I must once more walk.  The path of loss and grief and recovery.

I'm still working on the recovery part.

What exactly is it that one recovers when you lose a baby?

There are no memories.  No pictures.  No trace that that particular life ever touched yours.

Just a date on the heart's calendar, circled in red, forever.

I sometimes feel ashamed that I no longer remember the other dates.  The days that the three other babies left me.  All I can recall is the approximate time of the month.

"Let's see, my first pregnancy test was positive on the 4th of July, so we must have lost Galen towards the end of July 2003. 

"I knew I was losing Kelly on Mother's Day 2004, so it was sometime in the middle of May. 

"We announced our next pregnancy at Cy's first birthday party, but we lost Aiden before Labor Day, so it had to have been the end of August 2006."

I feel like a bad mother for forgetting.

But the heart can only take so many remembrances like that throughout the year.  So, today becomes The Day. 

If only I could plan for it, maybe it wouldn't take me by surprise.  Maybe I wouldn't be crying at Taco Bell over one thing and realize with a jolt that it's really because tomorrow is the day I have dreaded all year.  That even though I have five lovely, darling children, they will never make up the deficit I won't admit to carrying.

I'm supposed to feel grateful.  And I am.

 I'm supposed to celebrate survival.  And I do.

Maybe the time has come to really circle the date.  Make plans for next year.  Not allow myself to be caught off guard again.

After waking to the gloom of a September shower, I decided to clear the schedule.  We did make it to music lessons at 10:30.  I looked like something the cat drug in.

 A rather melodramatic cat.

 The non musical kids dumped a box of shredded paper and strewed it through the teacher's house.

  Ana contributed to the mayhem by helpfully barfing in puddles, rolling in them and then rolling in the shredded paper. 

You might be wondering, why was there shredded paper in the house to begin with?  Well, our sweet teacher is the composed mother of a single toddler.  This toddler actually plays with the confetti without making a mess.  I didn't know that was even possible.  Neither did my kids.  Miss Rachel has privately sworn to keep the tactile paper put away when our crew arrives.

 On the way home I decided spur of the moment to pick up Little Caeser's, rent Mom's Night Out and call my sister, Joanna to come watch it with us.  School be hanged!

And so, the clouds cleared,  a glittering sun regained it's place in the azure sky.  The world slowly sets itself right.

That's the way it is with September.

Cy and Dee at the Philbrook Museum, Sep. 11, 2010

If you want to read Micah's Story or How God Blessed Me through it all, you can follow these links.  Just a warning, Micah's story is pretty intense.  I wrote it more as therapy for myself.  But if you think any of these posts helpful, please share.  There is a Fabook button at the bottom of each post. 

I love all of you!

Tomorrow will be a better day.

It always is.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Easy Peasy

Alvin at age 4

Today should be day 11 of our 2014-2015 school year.  It's kind of hard for my perfectionist self to admit that.  I still have niggling feelings of guilt over not finishing Shurley's English vol. 2 and Math U See Alpha from last year.  Let's not even mention Story of The World: Ancient History that we have been lost in for the past THREE years!!

 The blame rests squarely on my shoulders for that one.

  I loooove history.  It should be a crime to spend one bare week on The Seventeenth Dynasty of Ancient Egypt.  Nope, we must mummify a chicken (Imhotep, the celestial fowl rests in peace on a shelf in the garage), read at least 20 different picture books, watch The Ten Commandments while eating an authentic Egyptian meal complete with homemade flat bread and write out the spelling list in hieroglyphics.  This will take at least three months. 

It should also be a crime to skip from Ancient History straight to Columbus.  What about Erasmus?  What about Kubla Khan?  What about The Dark Ages??

It turns out Perfectionism, Guilt and Old Fashioned Competition are a really bad combination.

I do try hard not to compare, but surely I'm not the only homeschool mother who cringes when the school bus rumbles down the road at 7 in the morning and my kids are all sound asleep and I'm still in yoga pants?  I mean, shouldn't we all be up and fed and hitting the books because we are Awesome Homeschool People who breathe Latin verbs and eat the Periodic Table and finish the days lessons before noon and college before we can drive?

Then I shudder again when the bus returns everyone home at 3 pm because I am still in my yoga pants and the kids have yet to finish their Columbus Day word search and haven't had recess yet and the kitchen hasn't been touched all day and surely all those children on the bus will be met by mothers in heels and pearls with milk and freshly baked cookies on the table. 

Okay, maybe that was only in the fifties, I guess everyone today eats Pizza Rolls or Hot Pockets.

Anyways, there is no end to the ways I can feel guilt over something that is such an incredible privilege.  But, they are just lies from the enemy.  I'm not really in control of my children's destiny anyways.  How much better it would be if I submitted everything to prayer, proceeded to give thanks and went about my day in the freedom of Grace.

 The freedom to not compare or try to keep up with the Joneses or the Joneses charter school. 

The freedom to change as the Spirit directs.

 The freedom to trust the future to God's direction.

 The freedom to chunk ol' Shurley and lovingly put away The (Never Ending) Story Of The World.

And so, I am stepping out in faith and trying something that up until a few months ago I utterly scoffed at:

School on the COMPUTER!.

Cue ominous music...

I didn't want to even consider online school for the following reasons:

1. I want less screen time for my children, not more.

2. Video games for math is cheating.  Thomas Jefferson didn't do it.

3. It couldn't possibly fit in with my Charlotte Mason fantasies.

4.  It might be expensive.

5.  It's MY computer and I don't want to share, doggone it!

Here is what changed my mind:

1. Ana.  'Nuff said.

2. I am lacking direction, daily planning is not my forte.  It is waaay to easy for me to get distracted and go overboard on one subject whilst completely ignoring another.

3. Lack of funds to just go buy curriculum.

4. Lack of patience to track down affordable, used curriculum that all fits together.

5.  A good Facebook friend posted a link to Easy Peasy, All In One Homeschool.

6. It rocked my world!

Easy Peasy is completely free.  180 lessons for every grade.  Every subject covered.

 We even get to use McGuffey readers!  Thomas Jefferson would approve. 

Even though he didn't actually use them.

 Because they were written about a hundred years later. 

But I digress . . .

We are having a blast so far!  I can breathe.  No need to cower from the condemning yellow bus trundling by.  I have a point by point plan that I can check off and rest afterwards, knowing that we are good for the day.

And for me, that is priceless!

P.S.  I will try to post a few pictures of recent projects and a sample of what our day looks like sometime this weekend.  Right now it's Time For School!  See ya later.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

End Of Summer, Beginning Of School

Just a report from the trenches . . .

It seems like it was just two weeks ago we were soaking up the lazy, hazy days of summer.  Swimming, camping out in the back yard, Vacation Bible School, celebrating the boys collective birthdays with a sleepover.  And then BAM!  All of a sudden we are officially Back To School and the kids are still scratching their heads, wondering what in the world just happened?  Me too, for that matter.

 I have to confess, though, I love the change of seasons.  All the seasons.  There is something magical about the gradual loosening of Winter's icy grip, the softening of the air, the redbuds, uh, well, budding.

 I live for the first really hot day.  The first day we can go swimming, the first lighting bug flash, the first cicada whirr, the first ripe tomato.  I love to  lay out on a blanket and soak in the rays and listen to the cacophony of Summer. 

I know that Winter will be solemnly quiet by comparison. But before the austerity of January is the cheery-ness of December and the Thankfulness of November. 

September is Summer's farewell and Autumn's promise. 

We don't start to cool off until October, typically.  The leaves change at the tail end of October.  But September will give us tantalizing glimpses of pumpkin pie weather.  My Russell Stover Carmel Apple will be melting in the heat.  I will sweat through a Pumpkin Spice Cappucino from Quick Trip.

 Our pencils will be sharp, erasers un-chewed and crayons unbroken, whole and neatly stacked in crisp yellow boxes.

Okay, that last sentence was so like, last week, you know.

The Avengers or The Village People?

See this picture?  There are several remarkable things about it.  First of all, it is the first picture I have ever posted.  Yay, me!!  Second, it proves that my kids did have a fun party at the end of Summer.  Third, my house is well protected, as you can see.  Fourth, as of the time of this photo all crayons were pristine.  That ended on the first day of school, three days later.

Alvin, Dee and Cy
I guess I should say something about this party.  I am not a big plan-it-out-party sort of gal.  I prefer to be spontaneous, practical, unique and a little on the cheap frugal side.  Last year we had an identical party.  I was pregnant, but it didn't seem to slow me down.  I allowed a troop of about 10 boys into my kitchen to top their own homemade pizzas.  I was totally cool and not stressed one bit. 

This year we had Little Caeser's. 

That Sherry bought and delivered.

I stressed over it for a week.

It looks like real life has finally caught up with me.

Just before our guests arrived, Robert very thoughtfully mowed the yard for me.  Then all the kids jumped into the wading pool.  Then they climbed out, then jumped back in, then climbed out and dripped their way into the house.  It could have been a Dr Suess lyric, "Big feet, wet feet, here come furry grass feet."

After our pizza feast, we had a costume contest.

Elle is practicing being a flower girl for her Uncle's upcoming wedding.

Cy and Dee opened their gifts.  Lots and lots of weapons!

Me and Ana
At ten o'clock the party moved out to the tent.  I slithered out behind the tent, utilizing my "Don't Let The Baby See Me While I Put Away The Laundry During Naptime" commando crawl and eavesdropped on the ghost stories.

At 11:15 Rob came inside.  He figured the boys would be right behind him, just as soon as the coyotes commenced to howling.

At 11:30 the whole troop came crashing in jubilantly: "It's dawn!! It's dawn!! We made it through the whole night!!"

Sigh . . .

 I will draw a merciful curtain over ensuing scenes.  Suffice it to say one movie, five hours and countless warnings later they all moved back outside to crash for the scant hour before the true dawn.

They truly squeezed out every last drop of fun.  Isn't that what Summer is all about?

But, Back To School must happen eventually.

Going to sleep must happen eventually too, so I will segue into the next post with the grace of a one legged duck.  Maybe tomorrow we can talk about School Year 2014.  It has been really different this year.  And I like it.  I like it a lot!

Good night.