Sunday, November 28, 2010

L.E.N.S. Photo Challenge

The blog Home is Where You Start From does photo challenges, and since there's a photographer inside of me trying to get out, I want to play along! I had a hard time picking a picture to use, but knew I wanted to use a vacation picture from this year.  I have some great shots, like these...

But ultimately, I think I want this one of the girls to be my entry for the "Your best shot" theme!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Mother Dearest

It's that time of year again, turkey, dressing, pie, and all the goodness that makes way for Christmas. But I'm going to talk about something else that I celebrate this time of year... my Mommy! I love that her b-day falls right around Thanksgiving, and sometimes even the day of. Pondering the meaning of Thanksgiving and giving thanks to her just seems more special with her b-day tied in. Sometimes I'm able to get a gift, most times she gets something hand-made from the kids, but always she gets my respect! She is a gem of a woman! Her life as a whole has been far from easy and she's had to fight hard for her happiness, but she's done it! I hope one day my kids will see even a glimpse of her strength in me.

One of my favorite memories of her when I was little (because it reassures me that I'm not the only mom who sometimes hates her name) is when she'd get tired of hearing "Mom, mom, mom, mommy, momma, mom, mommy!" She would then inform my sister and me that she had changed her name, and when we would ask what her new name was she would sometimes say "I'm not telling!" and other times she'd ask us to call her "Mother Dearest". I don't think we ever fell for it, and so far my kids haven't either!

I love you, mother dearest! Happy Birthday to you!

Sometime in 1980

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Home's Cool!

The decision to home school our villains came long before the villains themselves. Intelligent Man was homeschooled from 6th - 9th grade, where he then moved to a tiny little town, went back to public school, and most importantly, met me! What a lucky dog! I was also homeschooled for a very brief time during high school when I was trying to figure out which parent I wanted to live with after their separation. But these home school experiences we had were only a small fraction of what made up our decision, there are so many elements involved.

Perhaps one of the most convincing reasons for me was how awful my public school experience was, not just a year here or a year there, but pretty much from beginning to end! Thirteen years of agony (if you count Kindergarten), that's what I'd call it.

Well, that may not be entirely true since I don't really remember much of anything before 3rd grade, I could have enjoyed K-2nd, but I don't remember it, so it doesn't count.

We moved around a lot when I was little and I believe I missed some very basic skills that would have made learning much more of a breeze. I always thought " I must be dumb, everyone gets it but me" but looking back - I wasn't stupid... I wasn't taught! So, I struggled through each and every grade, passing by the skin of my teeth and never really understanding or retaining anything I learned.

Then there's the whole good teacher vs. bad teacher thing. Now don't get me wrong, teachers are very important and I respect their jobs, after all, I am one (I've just decided to teach on a personal level, not a public one). I remember only 1 teacher in all my years of school that ever made me feel worth a darn. To most of them I was just another face in the classroom, and to a few of them I was even a nuisance! I was FAR from a trouble maker, but because I needed extra help understanding, because I was shy and reserved and they didn't "get" me, I was a bother, and it was very apparent they felt that way. How devastating as a child, to feel rejected by the adults you're supposed to be able to trust.

There are amazing teachers out there that make a difference in kids lives every day! There are outstanding teachers who deserve much more recognition, not to mention pay, than they will ever get. However, there are "not so great" teachers out there as well. I don't ever want my kids to be in the hands of a "not so great" anyone. Then there are good teachers that have their hands tied, or are limited in some way by the politics of public school and can only reach so far for their kids. There are no guarantees when it comes to my kids teachers.

Will all of my kids get good teachers for every subject, every year of their school careers? No. Will my kids teachers wait for them to master a topic before moving on? No. Will Prissy Pants' teachers recognize when she's trying so hard to please them and encourage her accordingly? Probably not. Will Z Girl's teachers understand that when she gets embarrassed and lashes out all she needs is reassurance and comfort, and will they give it to her? Not likely. When the time comes, will Funny Bones' teachers find new and creative ways of grabbing her attention instead of labeling her as ADHD or a "class clown"? I highly doubt it. Knowing these things, and as a mom who is both willing and able, how can I not take this responsibility into my own hands?

Please understand that I am talking about MY family and OUR situation and why WE have chosen this lifestyle. Homeschooling is not for everyone! There are also those who simply can't home school for various reasons. This is not meant to make anyone feel guilty about decisions they've made for their family, I am merely sharing us with you!

God has blessed us tremendously! Intelligent Man had the opportunity to go back to school while FB was occupying my belly, and now he has an incredible job doing something he loves! He's just been promoted too! Because of this, I can stay home with my kids and raise them and teach them the way God has called me to. This is something He wants from our family and that is the #1 reason we are where we are. Here are a few more...

1. I can monitor outside influences.

2. They can have one on one learning time.

3. They can advance quickly when ready.

4. They can hang back on a topic when necessary.

5. We can pick whatever we want to learn about and run with it.

6. No waiting in drop off/pick up lines for countless hours each year.

7. No spending 99% of the school year preparing for a standardized test.

8. No taking standardized tests.

9. No stinky boys to distract my girls from learning.

10. No parent/teacher conferences about Z's attitude or FB's cutting up.

11. No seeing PP's nervous face when she has to walk into a big, scary class room full of strangers.

12. No worrying about my babies being bullied.

13. No worrying about a bullied kid taking revenge and shooting my babies.

14. No getting up before the sun to catch the bus.

15. We can sleep late and watch cartoons every single day.

16. We can start and stop school whenever we feel like it.

17. We can go on field trips whenever we want with no crowds - all the kids are in school!

18. I get to watch the expressions on their faces when they finally "get" a concept!

19. I get to teach them to read and write.

20. I get to see all of their "firsts".

21. I get to spend more quality time with them.

22. I really get to know and understand each of them individually.

23. I get to learn right along with them.

24. I get to hear them say they love homeschooling and love me being their teacher!

25. And one of my favorites: my younger ones learn without much instruction because they listen and pay attention to what PP is doing! They surprise me all the time by what they've picked up.

There are still plenty more reasons to add to this list, I pretty much find a new reason to love it and be thankful for it every day! But no matter how long my list gets, it's still a tough job. It's not a decision to be made lightly. It takes immeasurable patience and die-hard dedication. There are plenty of days I question my ability to do this with 4 kids for the next 18 years. Just saying that sends a chill up my spine. But I know what God has called me to do, and with Him, I will get it done. I mess up, sure, but I pray every day that He helps us to reach our home school potential, and as long as this stays His plan, that's what we'll strive to do!

So, here on our side of the world, home's cool!!


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Fake Banana

All of our villains have two middle names, and Funny Bones middle names are Faith Amanda. When we told Prissy Pants and Z Girl what FB's name was going to be we got a hilarious reaction. PP said, "Fake Banana?!" with an enormous amount of confusion in her voice and on her face! Needless to say, "Fake Banana" started out as FB's nickname (and I just realized that Fake Banana and Funny Bones share the same initials - awesome)! Although, it has evolved now, and she's most often called "Bake". So in honor of my Fake Banana, aka Bake, aka Funny Bones turning 2, this blog is about her!

FB has had me on my toes since her conception! It was a bit of a surprise since it happened sooner than I expected. Her birth was quick and dramatic, we had to stop at a closer hospital than planned since it was happening so fast and she was out before we could even get to a room! Things were quiet for a while after that, she was a good baby, and a happy one. But little did I know what we were in for as soon as she was mobile! She's always assumed she could keep up with the big girls and is livid if it doesn't work out that way. There is no off button for FB, she's always full-speed. With all the broken, trashed, and destroyed items (by her hand), ER visits, close-calls, and mild heart attacks that she's given us, it's a good thing she's so darn cute and has a natural ability to make people laugh, or else I'm afraid Intelligent Man and I would have given her away to a desperate, childless couple a long time ago!

She's definitely been my most challenging kid, and all I can do is pray that the boy doesn't break that record! But when I think of how she challenges me I see that it's really a blessing. While it may not seem so at the time, she helps me to be a better parent. I have learned to be more aware of what exactly my children are doing, to be more observant! I doubt I'll ever look back and wish I hadn't watched them so intently! I only wish I had learned to pay more attention to the seemingly small things when PP and Z were small. I'm so afraid that I may have missed some precious things while trying so hard to be the "right" parent and doing the "right" thing, instead of just simply watching every little moment. Not in a paranoid, worried way, but a loving, "I don't want to miss this" way. I still have to check myself at times to make sure I'm not missing the good parts! I thank God for making FB who she is, even when I feel overwhelmed by her personality. God doesn't make mistakes, He placed each of these personalities with us and gave us the tools to help each of them reach their potential, both in Him and on this Earth. What a privilege to know that God says I'm the best mother for them! As long as I remember to go to Him for help with these little personalities He created, then I can do this right!

So, to wrap this up...

To my silly, little FB on her 2nd birthday,

I love the creature that you are! I love your curiosity, your determination, your wit, and your sweet spirit. As challenging as some of these may be in a toddler, these traits will make one terrific grown woman! I pray that I help you to become the woman God wants you to be. I pray I never squash something He put in you because I don't understand it. There is no one like you and I am blessed to be your mommy! You are loved, you are amazing, you are Fake Banana!

Friday, November 5, 2010


We just finished up one of my favorite times of the year, when we indulge in a distant past- the Renaissance!  There are man-powered rides to ride, turkey legs to eat, jousts to cheer on, ye old shoppe's to browse, everyone who works there is in character, and the best part - you get to dress up and play along!  Whether a noble, a fairytale character, or a villain, there's a part for everyone.  This year my little villains went as, well,  villains... of the Pirate variety!  Yo Ho, Yo Ho!  I decided last year at the Ren Fest (dressed as a fairy with my little fairy girls) that we would be pirates this year.  I had every intention of Intelligent Man and me going dressed as pirates too, I just ran out of time to make our get-up.  Still a little bummed.  How awesome would that have been?  A whole pirate family with a little squawking parrot!  
This year the girl pirates and their boy parrot
won 3rd place in the costume contest! 

My Pirates

My Parrot

Posing with the contest judges

3rd place medal
So if you want to give 3 cheers at the TX Renaissance Festival, here's how:

Hip, Hip, Huzzah
Hip, Hip, Huzzah
Hip, Hip, Huzzah!! 

Monday, November 1, 2010

This little boy

I brought this little boy home only 3 short months ago tomorrow, but for some reason (that I cannot wrap my mind around) I feel I've known him for years!  It has got to simultaneously be the most spooky and the most wonderful feeling ever.  I can't quite put my finger on why I feel this way, maybe it's because he looks so much like Z Girl did as a baby, maybe it's because I started having dreams over 7 years ago about holding my son, or maybe it's because God knew I needed this connection with him to help me keep my sanity through the sleepless nights and the bouts of fussiness that encompass the both of us!  My girls were all so easy-going and a breeze to care for.  I miss each of those baby girls like crazy!  I would give just about anything to cuddle with them again!  I can't stand that babies are gone so quickly (if there were a sad, pity-party font this sentence would be using it).  BUT, despite the fact that the boy is more fussy, has reflux, and a misshapen head, I could not be more happy with him!  I have a unique relationship with each of my kids and love each of them uniquely.  I can tell you exactly what I love about each of the girls and what makes each of them tick.  I just can't put my finger on what I feel for this little boy.  Love, of course, but something else is going on.  Who is he?  Why do I know him like I do?  Why do I look at his brand new face and feel I've been looking at it for a lifetime?  I don't understand what I'm feeling, but I'm enjoying it.  Thank God for this connection with him or I may burst from the intensity of our new situation!  Thank God for this connection to pull me through the exhausting nights.  Thank God for this connection, whatever it is.  Thank God for all four of these amazing people that I get to watch grow up.  Thank God for the love that He has allowed me to feel for them and more importantly, show to them!  Thank God for these little girls and this little boy!