Sunday, August 21, 2011

Taking a breath...

Carter started soccer three weeks ago. We had Cameron here two weeks ago. Carter started school last week. Harrison and I start tomorrow. Busy, busy, busy!!!

I am thankful for the k12 program we are using with Carter. I adore that they started his lessons slowly, so that we were able to take our time figuring out all of the technical details. I am hoping that my first few weeks back at the U will be the same way- please, Professors, take it a bit easy at first!

Kurt and I have been working together, and things are going more smoothly. We have had more scheduled discussion times and we have both made an effort to keep those times clear. We have increased our communication regarding our plans, needs, and desires. We have been working carefully to monitor our own moods, and express them to one another before heated discussions have a chance to take place. Baby steps to improvement and peace.

Peace in the home matters. The chaotic and confusing world outside is full of nearly constant ranging storms. I believe it is vital for everyone to be able to have a safe and calm place where they feel comforted and uplifted, rather than strained and stressed. In a perfect world, that safe place would always be at home. However, it takes great effort to keep a home happy- especially when the home houses little ones who demand great amounts of time and energy.

Kurt has been working a lot more hours recently. While I appreciate that his company pays him overtime on top of his salary, I was feeling pretty burned out. A large part of the marital repair that Kurt and I are facing involves both of us trying to be empathetic to one another's situations and stresses. While I understood his work was important, I was greatly missing any kind of downtime. However, rather than express my exhaustion, I wrapped myself in Kurt's needs and tried hard not to burden him with what I was going through. It didn't take long for this to translate into me becoming an overly emotional, hypercritical, and exhausted. With each day that passed I was able to do less and less while consistently feeling worse and worse. I blamed my diet, but once the Rolo McFlurries had stopped- I was eating perfectly. I blamed my missed workouts, but found that getting back into my routine didn't help. I was missing a large piece, but couldn't quite find the fix...

I have been rereading a book about raising sensitive children when I came to a section written for parents. No, not instructions about parentING, it was more like a clothing care label- it listed symptoms of burnout, and gave a simple cure. ALONE TIME. What??? Psh. Surely that couldn't apply to ME. I mean, I am alone all the time! Like... um... for example... uh... maybe not. The same day I read about alone time, my good friend Joni facebooked that she was excited because her hubby shooed her out the door early for her much needed break- in the form of a pedicure. One would think that after reading my book, and then seeing such a post, I would have thought, "Yeah, a break is important. I am going to do that now!" But... I didn't. I told myself I would be fine. I told myself that reading in my bed (with my night owl Carter reading at my side) was the same thing... it is, right? Apparently not.

Saturday came and our day was FILLED with family activity. Carter's soccer game, family outings and errands- we were booked. We came home at 5:00 and I needed to make dinner. I was ready to break down and cry... just the thought of making a simple dinner seemed like it was taking the same amount of effort as a climb up Everest. Kurt jumped in and offered to make dinner. Somehow, it wasn't enough. The kids were climbing all over, jumping around like mad, and pretending to be various kinds of animals. I love my children more than life itself, but just the sounds of their little voices made me want to scream and run away. Yeah... break time.

Kurt suggested I go out and see a movie. But I remembered Joni's pedicure, and decided to go that route. If you are not from the Reno area... take this tip- DO NOT TRY AND BOOK ANYTHING IN A SPA ON A SATURDAY EVENING. They are all booked. Most of them, I found, include cocktails (not that I would drink one!). Who knew? However, getting an appointment was a nightmare. I called every spa within 20 miles. Nothing. As my budget climbed, so did my stress level. GREAT. I finally decide to take a break and I can't get what I want!? UGH! With a LOT of hesitation I called the nail salon located in WalMart. I hate... HATE... WalMart. I was also super snooty about the price. How good could a $28 pedicure in a WalMart be? Kurt was soothing, tried to offer solutions ("Do something else tonight, and book a pedicure for next week!") but I knew what I wanted. I wanted a pedicure! Kurt reminded me that it would probably not be what I was used to, or be the experience I was really looking for... I had to agree. I mean, how could a cheap WalMart pedicure stack up to a $95 aroma experience with hot stones and specialty products? At this point, I didn't feel like it mattered. Kurt convinced me to get the WalMart pedicure and then see a movie.

I called ahead. They had an opening. I grabbed my keys and left.

Within just a few minutes of being alone in my car (what is that sound? SILENCE! No children arguing, talking, singing, or asking for stops at the toy store?!) I could feel my shoulders relax. By the time I was sitting in the massage chair I was feeling more at ease.

In twenty minutes I was VERY SERIOUSLY humbled that I had scoffed at the WalMart nail salon. Their employees were cheerful, sweet, and skilled. I was there for almost an hour, and as I walked out of the building I felt like I could take a deep breath and smile. A quick phone call with Joni made me feel brighter, and then I went to Barnes and Noble and browsed for (yikes!) three hours.

Lesson learned. My pride had almost blinded me.

A break is a break. I had forgotten how amazing it felt to be alone. It was perfect. PERFECT!

When I arrived home I felt like a new person. I felt energized, grateful, happy. When I walked through the door I found Kurt trying to manage the circus alone. Carter and Harrison were gleefully jumping around, hiding from Daddy, and trying to play instead of sleep. Because I was feeling so calm, I was able to think outside the box, and I was able to take over the situation (so Kurt could take a break!) and get our happy kids to bed in record time.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Back to School 2011!

While I always knew home school would be a good thing for the kids, it has been years since I thought of doing it. Carter's time in public school was difficult, which I wrote about here, but his difficulties were not something that could be solved with a new teacher, or a new building. Carter needed a complete change.

Over the summer I spent time doing a bit of homeschooling with the boys. I was shocked- literally shocked- at how quickly Carter would pick things up. While I knew that he would be learning more about ABC's and 123's in the fall, I decided to make learning about our religion and faith as the cornerstone for summer. I am amazed and the very deep testimony that Carter has gained during our short summer session, and I am so thrilled for him and his desire to "Choose the Right" in all that he does. His prayers have become more personal, and his desire to learn more has increased.

Kurt and I decided to start Carter's K12 program a few weeks early. I watched all the videos, and even sat down in online classes, and I felt ready to go. More than being ready- we felt the need to start early so we would have more wiggle room during the school year for vacations and sick days. I would rather start early than have to ask Carter to work on Saturdays (and as our good friends, Jennifer and Aaron, shared with us- SERIOUS blessings come from NOT touching any school work on Sundays). Because I am planning a trip to Peru this November, I will not be here for a few weeks to help Carter. It would be much easier on our family if school was an option during that time, rather than a requirement. Carter will still have a few appointments to attend, but the bulk of his work should be able to be postponed (or already done!).

The K12 program is amazing. I am already impressed. They shipped Carter a new computer and printer, as well as all of the materials he will be needing this year. Today is our second day of classes, and I have already learned a LOT about what will and won't work for our family. For example: Carter is NOT an evening learner. He took an assessment last night and did pretty poorly, but when he took the same assessment in the morning, without ANY additional corrections, instructions, or explanations, he got a perfect score. Mornings it is! **By morning, I mean the time that Carter naturally feels like waking, has a shower, is dressed for the day and has been fed a healthy breakfast... this generally puts us at 10:30 or so- he is NOT a morning person, so he does every action very slowly in the morning, and I let his own internal clock run his day. There will be a time in his life that he has to wake with an alarm- but right now is not that time. Carter gets between 9-12 hours of sleep per night, and Harrison seems to consistantly get 12- this is fine, as neither of them nap, and both of them are VERY active children. Ninety percent of the time they are in their beds at 7:00pm, but they are free to read, view a movie (they do not see TV or movies any other time of the day), or play handheald games. They are not allowed to talk to one another- this is their alone time, and they both use it very differently.

The pictures here are from today. Carter is holding a beach ball globe with various animals taped to different continents. Carter enjoyed learning about continents (although he knew most of them already- thank you Clever Island!) and oceans, hearing stories, working on math, and working on rhymes found in poetry! After we were finished, we went to McDonald's and the kids ran around in the Playland. Follow that with a trip to the grocery store, and we were all feeling pretty accomplished! The kids decided to use some of Carter's blue-colored school materials to build a Smurf Village, and that was how we finished up our day! (Yes, I am aware that trips to the Evil-Arches are bad for us... however, as the summer has come to a close, we have been out of the house a lot more- and between our hours or errands or events I would rather take the kids there so they can play on slides and run around with other children. I also like that they have a lot of gluten-free options, and we can stick to our paleo diet fairly simply- as long as we remember our fish oil. In everything- moderation. And THANK HEAVEN that Rollo McFlurries are gone! Those were the ONLY cheat that Kurt and I had an issue with... now, they are gone, and since they have disappeared, we have had 0 refined sugar).

Next week Harrison will start "Mommy School" with me. We will be doing our Mommy School while Carter takes a school break. I think it will be better for them if I seperate them, and that way they each get 1:1 time while they are learning. Next week is also the start of school for me. I have three semesters left until I am finished with my BS in Anthropology, and I am very excited =)

Welcome, Fall 2011! We plan on you being the most wonderul one yet!

Play Time!

As our week with Cameron came to an end, we found ourselves spending more time relaxing. Taking the boys to an open field is always a good time. We brought the soccer ball, lightsabers, and water bottles, and prepaired to see the kids play hard! Cameron and Kurt played with the boys, while I sat it out. Cameron enjoyed playing soccer (he has fancy footwork!). Kurt played Star Wars. The night came to a close when I took a lightsaber to the head and ten minutes later a soccer ball to the face. Yeahhhhh.... owwwwww.

We were all so sad when Cameron had to leave! When he arrived, the first thing Harrison said to him was, "We love you, Cameron!!!" It was SO sweet! Carter insisted on holding Cameron's hand everywhere he went, and they loved having him here with us!!!

**Update: Cameron left two weeks ago, and Carter still calls the spare room, "Cameron's Room!" LOL! We all love Cameron so much!

Life at the Pool

My kids LOVE the pool. Harrison enjoys splashing around in shallow waters, and Carter loves jumping from the high dive. Carter insisted on bringing Cameron to the pool with us- then insisted everyone jump off the high dive (Harrison was excluded). We all splashed, swam, and had a great time in the water!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Cameron's Day Out

One of the boys' favorite activities is going to the driving range and following with a dollar movie. They adore it! The only way they could love it more is if Cameron came along! I loved watching the boys golf, and in one of the pictures you can see where Carter is watching Cameron and ready to give him tips as needed, lol! Harrison enjoys golfing, but wants to swing his own way. Hey, that's okay! Follow golf with some Kung Foo Panda 2 and you have a perfect afternoon!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


This year we enrolled Carter in soccer. His first practice went so well! It was a special time, his very first organized sport! He enjoyed it even more than he normally would have, because our friend Cameron was in town! Carter LOVED having Dad, Cameron, Mom, and Harrison on the sidelines to cheer him on!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Grocery Shopping Adventures!

Grocery shopping is a pretty big event around here. Well, not really... it is generally just the little boys and myself. And we menu plan. And our nutrition follows the paleo lifestyle... add these things together, and the boys often feel like they need to spice up our trips- they need adventure! Today they decided to dress themselves, and they both insisted that they wanted to grocery shop in their chosen outfits. The picture above, is what they decided to wear. Fine with me... off we went.

Kurt doesn't love when the kids dress up. I really don't mind it (as long as we aren't going anywhere that would suggest a need for regular clothing! No Buzz Lightyears at Church!!!). So, when the kids and I are flying our adventures solo, they dress the way they want. The way I see it, they only have a few more years where they can get away with it- so have fun while it lasts!!!!

OH! I almost forgot to mention. Carter is NOT Woody in this picture, no- he is Indiana Jones. He has never seen the movies, but he enjoys playing the LEGO Indiana Jones game on our Wii, lol!