Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Best Worst Mom Ever

Today is my son's birthday. 

I didn't plan a big party with a petting zoo and carnival rides, I didn't make any cute handmade banners as seen on Pinterest, or craft any favors or post on Facebook about how much he means to me.  I didn't even get him a card, or a present. 

We are all recovering from the flu and just got back into our house last night.  All he wanted for his birthday was to be back in the house and to just relax all day and play video games.

He woke up at 5:21 a.m. and started playing Minecraft on the computer.  His brothers had to do all of his chores today and he went back and forth between Xbox and Minecraft.

I rolled out of bed at 10 a.m. and rolled onto the couch next to him.  We snuggled under the covers until his Grandma came with presents and then his Grandpa showed up with donuts and presents.  After noon I went to the store and bought him Fritos and Bean Dip and Dr. Pepper which is what he requested for lunch.  There were no antioxidants in any of it, to my knowledge.

Then I sat next to him while he played video games.  I went online and read a story and a profile of one of his fanfiction buddies he had been telling me about.  And he told me secrets.  Although he will deny that part.

Years of birthday traditions were laid aside. The guilt and the shame of my lack of preparation threatened to distract me from enjoying the moment.

Dirty dishes littered the house.  I found a half eaten chicken drumstick next to the clean laundry wrinkling on my dining room table.  Half unpacked suitcases lay everywhere.

And he was having the best time ever.

Dear Jesus, you are enough for me, yet you gave me my son.  Thank you for him and his brothers.  It was his birthday, and you gave me this gift:  the reminder that you are faithfully teaching me how to be a mom.  How to be a gift instead of buying gifts.  How to lead them to the One Perfect Gift.  Birthdays bring the pressure to be perfect, you bring Grace.  Please help me to give that gift generously, to him and his brothers, to myself, and to others.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Travel Hacks

Here are a few items that I always like to pack when we head out for a trip:

1.  Pump hand soap
Hotels will supply bar soap, but we have contracted the stomach flu on vacay, so I always like to make it as easy and as close to our home routine as possible to wash our hands.

2.  Baby wipes
In between babies when everyone is potty trained, we still carry the wipes around.  How does anyone get along without these things?  I like to use baby wipes for peanut butter smeared faces and an antibacterial brand for wiping questionable hotel surfaces.  Wipes also come in handy for cleaning up puke on the side of the road.

3.  Paper towels, plastic baggies and a little trash bucket from the dollar store
We learned a little late to pack this essential.  Don't let car sickness find you unprepared.  Think about how long that smell is gonna linger in the car seats.  I also think you can figure out how helpful a plastic (airtight) baggie can be in this situation, unless you are cool to throw out soiled clothing.  I think we have discussed this one enough.

4.  Duct tape for road trips
My Daddy swears that this will keep your car going those last 10 miles in multiple scenarios.  Think busted hoses, hoods that won't close, etc.  Trust me, you may have the car washed and waxed and perfectly organized when you leave on vacation, but by the time you pull up at your destination you very well may look like National Lampoons.

5.  Tylenol, Advil, (whatever pain reliever/fever reducer your doctor recommends)
You may all leave for vacation the picture of health, but if an earache hits a little one at 2 am, you and all those in the camp sites or hotel rooms around you will wish you thought to bring this along.  My apologies to Big Sur campground and all its campers on 7/21/2011.

6.  A sense of humor
When you end up needing any of these items, whether you have car trouble, car sickness, or any of the minor bumps that seem major when you are far from home, remember that the vacation is not ruined.  I read a book by Gary Smalley where he asked his kids about their favorite vacations.  They all agreed that it was when the family had gone camping together.  He was shocked, because they were often caught in a deluge of rain, or stuck with mechanical difficulties, or found they had forgot some important item at home.  The kids had enjoyed working through the challenges together and looking back at them later.  I always try to think about that to help me get through the situation without feeling like a failure and move forward.  And my kids really do seem to forget the little set backs and remember the fun times.  Or they enjoy making fun of us for the set backs.  Which is okay, too. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Your Online BFF's Guide to Breastfeeding for Those Who Hope to Nurse or Having Trouble, Part 1

If you are considering breastfeeding, many people may tell you how natural and beautiful it is.

If you are in your first couple of weeks of breastfeeding, you may find yourself wanting to rip those people's eyebrows off.

The first couple of weeks of nursing your baby are can be very disappointing if you are like most women who struggle with breastfeeding in the beginning.

In no time, breastfeeding will become second nature.  Natural, easy, sanitary and always available.  But you have got to hang in there those first couple of weeks when it is painful, messy and knocks away at all your confidence as a new mom.

If you are having a hard time breastfeeding,

Sweater Boots, Vomitus and Togetherness

For this moment, we are living out of a hotel.

I am sick with the flu.  Or croup.  Or a flu that makes you bark like a seal.

I am sensing the morning sickness ebb away.

I feel like a terrible mom.

My kids feel like I am a great mom, because homeschool has been greatly condensed and they have gotten to watch more television and play more video games than the law allows.

We got to the end of what clothes I was able to pack during our lightning evacuation from plumbing distress.  My husband laughed at my outfit.  I ran away to Target in an attempt to better myself.  He laughed even harder a half hour after I got back when he finally noticed my apparently sad attempts to better myself.  I guess the sweater boots I purchased on clearance did nothing to improve my capri sweats and sweater outfit.


You know what?  It's okay.

Sometimes, during the moment, we only see the challenges.  Like the time we arrived at camp at 10 pm only to realize we left the tent poles at home.  Or the numerous vacations where we have found ourselves on the side of the road trying to clean vomit out of the crevices of a car seat.  Or a few days ago when we were huddled in the bathroom trying to convince my preschooler that it was okay---that he really wasn't missing anything---and it was time to fall asleep. 

Time passes and the gift of perspective comes and it is the working out of challenges that bonds the family.  Those challenges become shared memories and shared jokes.  The "you had to be there" jokes where we were there.  Together. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

People Showering In My Driveway

As my home is now a hazmat area, there is now a shower in front of my doorway for your decontamination.

I knew that one day that would happen if I kept putting off the dishes.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


I am so grateful that we are finally in a hotel that can accommodate us.  We stayed in a hotel close to our house for three days, and it was OK as it had two full beds and a pull out, but we needed long term accommodations and were having lots of trouble getting any commitment from anyone as to who was going to pay for us to move out of the home we had already paid rent for. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

On The Road Again

Here is an update on our housing situation.  Crews came with heaters and blowers and moved furniture and measured the moisture in the walls to see which ones have to be removed.  They also marked the new floor the owners had put in a few months ago and plan to remove most of it.  We are in a hotel down the street while all that toxic moldy air blows itself around.  Thankfully our property management company and the owner have been helpful and willing to help us find a place to stay in the meanwhile.  The owner's homeowner's insurance has not agreed to pay for the damage because the leak has not been found and we had not purchased renter's insurance yet.  So, we are praying for God's guidance to where he wants us to be for the next two to four weeks. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Water Seeping Up Through The Floor of our House

Otherwise titled, a good day to be a renter.

We recently sold our home and after putting bids in on different houses and getting sick of house hunting and staying in hotels (seriously), we got a rental close to family.  It felt really weird to not be in a home that we owned, until water started squishing up between the floor tiles.  Then we sorta felt relieved.  Cause it's gonna be expensive.

Then the property management lady came and said they are sending a team to handle and assess our need for displacement. 

Not so relieved.

But God is in control.  And He is good.

So it is gonna be okay.

Show your glory, Lord our God.  Amen.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Your Online BFF's Guide to First Trimester Pregnancy

Disclaimer:  The information included on the Online BFF's guide are meant for enjoyment only.  They are the equivalent of a chat between IRL BFFs over coffee and vanilla scones.  Not only are they not meant to be taken as medical or psychological advice, or in the place of medical or psychological advice, they are strictly meant to be taken "as a grain of salt".  They are from my heart to yours to keep you entertained until your next girl's night out.  Love, Your Online BFF.

Pregnancy, the First Trimester

Let me start by saying that if you are in the first trimester of your pregnancy, Congratulations!!!!!! And bless your heart.  This is such an exciting time in your life!!!!!  But don't feel bad if you, well, feel bad.  It is quite possible that you are a pale, queasy, gassy, moody, version of your former self.  It will probably change for the better very soon, but until then please know, that I love you.  I think that you are beautiful.  You are doing a very hard thing.  Hang in there.  One day soon you will perk up and pink up.  People will tell you that you are radiant.  They will give up their seats and open doors for you again.  They will even bring you gifts.  But for right now, when all of the main development of your baby is happening and no one can tell that anything is going on inside of you, you are just going to have to hang in there. 

Here are some of the things you may be experiencing:

Monday, January 7, 2013

My Favorite Free Mommy Apps

When I first got my smartphone 2 years ago,  I was obsessed with finding cool apps.  Irritatingly so, as my family will tell you.  Most of them were duds, or as cool as they were, I just didn't have time to pursue them.  However, there are a few that I still use all the time.  To this day.  And so, I must recommend them to you, you savvy technological person, you.

Questions People Ask Me About Homeschooling Part 3

The next question I get asked has to do with the qualifications that are needed to homeschool your children.  While each state varies, I think that at the time of this post, California only requires that the homeschooling parent be "capable of teaching" and rhis does not mean that they have to have completed high school.  The bottom of this post contains a link to the Home School Legal Defense website which clearly outlines the requirements of each particular state for a parent to homeschool their child. 

3. Sure you can homeschool, you were a school teacher, but I could never have the knowledge, skill, expertise, organization, you name it, to do what you do.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Questions People Ask Me About Homeschooling Part 2

This is the second part of a 3 post series with honest answers to the questions people most often ask me about homeschooling.

2. How do you stand being home with the kids all day?
Yes, I have actually gotten this question from friends who really love my kids and their own but admit that they would have a hard time dealing with the mess, bickering and chaos that they imagine would ensue if their kids were home all day with them.

I love being home with my boys and consider it one of the great privileges of my life to have this time with them. However, there are some things that we have to be very purposeful about if we want to be together all day and enjoy it.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Multiple Intelligences

When I was teaching in public school, it became very clear to me that although some of my students really struggled with their bookwork, they absolutely excelled in areas that others found elusive.  Their parents would worry that their child just was not smart because of sub par reading test scores, while I knew that their child could play an instrument like a child prodigy and solve disputes between classmates with more diplomacy than the adult playground monitors.  I would think to myself, if only their parents could be assured that even though their child might never excel in  a formal school setting, the skills and intelligences that their child DID have would make them very capable of achieving a HIGH degree of success in a "real life setting".  Social intelligence and musical intelligence could combine to make their student the most highly acclaimed musical teacher on the West Coast.  And no one would ever ask what their reading level was after they left school.  They could hire 3 assistants to edit and write their marketing literature.  School intelligences aren't everything in life, they just feel like everything when you are in school.  How many of your adult friends have ever asked you what level of math you completed in high school?

So, in honor of my many super talented students, I wanted to write a quick synopsis of multiple intelligences for those of you who are unfamiliar with them.  I have included a link to a simplified test to help you figure out where your strengths may lay. 

In 1983, Howard Gardner, a Harvard psychologist, published a book outlining eight different kinds of intelligences, challenging the long held belief on IQ as being a discreet type of intelligence.  He suggested that there are different ways to be "smart".

Kinesthetic---Body/Physical Intelligence
Logical---Numbers and Problem Solving Intelligence
Interpersonal---Intelligent about people
Intrapersonal---Intelligent about yourself
Visual/Spacial---Smart with what you see, pictures, charts
Musical---Musically Intelligent
Naturalistic---Nature Smart
Linguistic---Intelligence with words

Although Gardener's work lacked empirical evidence and was dismissed by people who said that what he viewed as "intelligences" where actually just individual strengths, personality traits, skills, etc., many teachers who have worked directly with scores of students still swear by the insight in his work.

What type of intelligences do you excel in?  What about your spouse and children?  Do you think Gardener was on to something?

Take the test for yourself:

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Homeschool Questions Public School Parents Ask Part 1

I often get the same questions over and over from curious parents.  Here is the first and by far the most common question people ask me when they find out that I homeschool.

1.  What about socialization?

Thankfully, in this day and age, socialization has not been an issue for us.  With all the homeschool groups and kids nearby, we really have to seriously limit the amount of socializing that we do in order to have enough time to get through our daily lessons.  I know this sounds odd, but just for example a typical week for many homeschoolers might look like this:

Mon.  Breakfast, chores, schoolwork, lunch at a park with homeschool friends, home to rest and reading/literature, basketball practice, dinner, outdoor play with neighborhood kids.

Tues.  Breakfast, chores, schoolwork, working on the vegetable garden, lunch outside, water play in the backyard, rest and reading, dinner at Grandma's with cousins, home to play with neighbors.

Wed.  Breakfast, chores, Bible, Math and Penmanship, Fieldtrip to local Aquarium, dinner at Church, Church Youth Group/AWANA.

Thurs.  Breakfast in the car on the way to Co-op for Spanish, History, and Science.  Pizza Party lunch with co-op friends.  Home for rest and reading.  Basketball Practice for one child, 4-H for another.

Fri.  Breakfast on the way to homeschool PSP where kids do P.E., Music and more Science.  Lunch in the park with friends.  Home to rest and rest.  And rest. 

This is just a sampling, I have cut my schedule way back now that I have four boys and they seem perfectly content staying home and bonking each other on the head with lightsabers and playing outside with the neighborhood children.  But we can go to midday Kung Fu lessons for homeschool kids, swimming lessons and we enjoy our period of rest during the afternoons which gives us the energy to enjoy chess club, basketball, football, golf, tennis lessons, 4-H, boyscouts, Church youth group, whatever we choose to do without being stressed by homework and tight evening schedules.

Look for the next 2 posts in this series as they are published throughout the coming week.