Monday, October 24, 2016

Riding Lessons

M continues to adore riding lessons.  Actually, I think her favorite part may just be hanging around in the barns and smelling the horses, but the lessons are good too.  I took a couple videos at her lessons on October 8 and 15th and wanted to share here so you can have a better sense of what she's up to and how she is progressing.  The paint pony she rides is Domino, her newest favorite. I'm less sure what the other one is called.

They are doing circuits.  M was first up in the video just above this, so each time she had to remember what the instructor had described and lead her horse through the path in the prescribed order and gate.  I think you'll see posting trot, seated trot, walking, and a little going over small obstacles (precursor to jumping) and a lot of directing her horse through wide circles and around cones. 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

I was missing you Mama.

Last spring, as E's time as a "bluebird" ended, I was sad about not walking along the wall with him each day, and not walking him in to his classroom for that final big hug.  I do definitely miss those things.  A new sweet moment is emerging that I don't want to forget.

Each day when I walk up to claim him from his teachers outside, he grabs my hand looks up, smiles, and says "I was missing you Mama."  I always reply:  "I was missing you too, E."

There was a time when this probably would have brought on waves of mommy guilt over him missing me. Now, I'm older and more experienced, if not wiser and understand that we are both OK.  He hasn't spent all day being sad.  He is just happy to seem me again and glad we're together. It is good to be missed.  I love what a great job this little one does of taking care of his mama.  He remains the best snuggler, first to bring me my water, first to check and see if I'm OK, and now is full of big boy conversation.

I could talk to him all day.  In fact, we recent had E and mama's day of fun, but that is a longer story for another day. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Ten on Wednesday

 1.  Last week, the big kids didn't have school on Monday.  My leave request had gotten lost in the email so they had a lot of time on their own. I was surprised to discover M doing a science experiment at the table during one of my check-ins.  We took it up a notch and read the instructions, moved to the stove, and actually managed to successfully grow some crystals by the next day.
 2.  Girl Scouts has returned.  The first meeting was long and a little chaotic, but the troop leader is nice and there is a good group of girls so we're looking forward to a fun year.  M is still attending Girl Scouts at SEAS, but this may be the last year as after this the logistics/missed class time will likely tip the balance towards another troop.  In the meantime, she is having a great time doing crafts, learning core values, and making friends!
 3.  I read somewhere that a great way to reduce fits/improve behavior is to dedicate 20 minutes to playing with your kid on the floor daily.  This seems easy and something we're probably doing anyway, but I am making a conscious effort to make sure E is getting at least that in a super focused, no distractions way. I have have zero clue if it is working, but it is definitely entertaining and fun.  Last week, we spent the better part of an hour with him jumping off this ladder on to his bed.  Per his request I did video most of his attempts so he could watch the replay.

 4.  We took a whirlwind trip to the farm this weekend and it was great weather for it.  The kids spent a lot of time with the chickens and tree house, but also made fun gourd crafts.  M made 3! and the boys each made one of their own design.
 5.  E & Ro are adorable together.  They spent a lot of time with their tools, adventuring, and doing puzzles in the tents.  There was remarkably less fighting and more cooperation.  (Hooray!)
 6.  E specifically requested this photo with the chickens.  He is a big fan.  I got to spend a lot of extra time with him on Friday as he was randomly out of school.  I have no idea what families where both parents have normal jobs do with all these random days off.  I assume daycare or Grandma? In any case, glad I could be here with him.
 7.  M has a new "spelling menu" of activities to work on.  The first option was writing her spelling words in shaving cream and she loved it.  B would not have liked this as sensory play was not his favorite.  M could recall all other instances when she has done things with shaving cream and loves it.  The spelling menu is in addition to her "homework menu", monthly family projects, and daily XtraMath.  She has WAY more homework than Brendan does.  It is annoying.  She does need the extra time with her math facts, but some of the other stuff just feels like busy work.
 8.  M and I love fall mornings outside.  It isn't nearly as cold as her outfit would suggest.  We wandered the gardens, checked on our plants and faeries, and then sat on the porch and talked before she got in a little scooter time.  I adore our yard and it's quite wood.  Perfect for M & me!  (I should mention that Grandma loves to do all these things with her in the mornings too and is usually around a couple days of the week to lead morning adventuring).
9.  B sustained his first (very minor) swimming injury yesterday.  First, you need to know that he and the other boys in Onyx are racing at all times during practice. I don't think this is required, but who am I to say.  There is a staggered start for each length of the pool, but they battle to catch the people ahead of them before they reach the end. Over and over and over, for 45 minutes (with only a couple rests to put on flippers or get instruction).  When every length is a battle it was only a matter of time before someone got kicked in the face and yesterday was that day.  He is totally fine and definitely likes the race to the wall with every lap so kuddos to him.  We did mention watching out for other people's feet/bodies and making sure that they are doing what the coaches want. He is sore daily, but always happy to go and happy when he gets out of the water.  Love this.  (Ps. doesn't waiting at the bus stop with these two look fun?)

10. After heading back from the farm on Saturday, we went straight to "International Night" at OSSM.  It is always hard to leave the farm, but I'm glad we made it back for this event.  It features the food of all the countries where OSSM students and their families have roots.  This year, each table had a host family/theme country.  Yes, there were  some straight "America" tables, but a wide diversity of other countries too. The food is amazing and very authentic and the conversations both with other people and with our kids is great.  This year, there was even a short Irish Stepdance performance on the balcony.  This is probably the biggest event of the fall semester at OSSM and getting larger and better each year. I look forward to enjoying it again next fall.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Ten on Tuesday

1. If you know me, you know how I love/tend to overbook us in all ways possible because everything sounds like so much fun, right? Well, Saturday was booked full from about 11am onward.  On Thursday or Friday, Brent's back had started hurting and got worse by the day.  To the point where I was helping him up from sitting positions, consistently, etc... We took this as a message to scale back the rest of the weekend.  We did all the Saturday things -- hair apt. and yoga for me, birthday part for E's friend, riding lessons for M, and then bailed on the Girl Scout party and hung out at the neighborhood pool instead.  After that, we pretty much dialed back to not much so he could rest and we could all mentally rest after chaos behind and looking ahead of us.  We went to the pool every evening as part of our good byes as it has been such a constant to us this summer. We tossed E high in the air I got to swim actual laps (20 one day!). We did other little house projects like replacing some window screens.  We rested.  With a new chair, meds, and rest, Brent's back is MUCH better and I think so are all of us.

2. Sunday's one activity (other than the pool) was breakfast out as we were out of coffee and the kids were feeling like fall hot chocolate.  It was fun and delicious!
3.  M is now in group riding lessons with three other girls including her buddy Ashtyn.  She seems to have conquered her nerves, is feeling the rhythm with the horse and following all the instructions well.  She has beautiful posture on the horse and got lots of compliments from her instructor (rare!).  She got the new riding stance on the first try and took the horse over small landscapte timber obstacles as part of the riding circut.  Having an hour class is MUCH better!

 4.  Did I mention we had a hard time letting go of the pool? Here is M on the last day hugging the furniture!  B is having less difficulty as he knows he'll be swimming four days a week, but it will be less leisurely than our family swims, I suspect and indoors.

5.  In a stunning turn of events I started actually scrapbooking again.  In the course of the weekend I finished 12 pages. (Four of those I started last week, but hadn't done the journaling).  In fairness, 7 total of those were pretty formulaic - 4 pages of vacation photos on the same model, 3 pages of kid interviews on a different model.  The remaining 4 though were all unique and it took me a bit to relearn how to do that.  It is weird, as I've scrapbooked 100s of pages overtime, but it takes awhile to remember what works and figure out the style/layout components.  The above is probably my favorite of the lot.  It is about getting snowcones with the Wainrights and our adventures with them.  The other three pages are about - celebrating July 4th at the lake, going to the Zoo with cousins to start and end the summer, and E's summer gymnastics lessons.  Yes, I scrapbook kind of randomly whatever strikes my fancy!  All this was inspired by stopping at an actual scrapbook store on Friday afternoon and buying 20 pages of paper with the challenge to myself that I had to complete 10 layouts by the end of Monday--- and I did it! Hooray!

 6.  We had big rains last week!  Just a torential downpoor so all the occasional "water feature" in our yard were in full effect.  My favorite of them is when the little "creekbed" in the front pours down the steps creating little waterfalls.  (Most of the rest are less cute and more in need of fixing).  E dancing in the rain in his backwards swimming suit is always cute too!

7.  We've been so lucky to have Grandma stay with us several days a week of late.  Thursday (you can tell it is Thursday by E's mass-day uniform, lol), she bought each kids some books and little fun presents. They loved listening to her read books most of all.  E is especially cuddly of late after long days at school.

8.  FunRun! The school fundraiser at Cross Timbers is named Fun Run.  They raise money for technology, teacher grants, Scholastic news, school events, and other supplies for the school.  If you'd like to donate click on  (M) or (B) and donate either a flat amount or an amount per lap.  The fundraiser ends Thursday! Thanks to those of you who have already donate!

9.  Yes, we did wake up to the big 5.6 earthquake on Saturday morning.  It was the longest one I think I've experienced so far. We're all fine here, but there is damage closer to the epicenter. I do worry about what happens with the next bigger one when this one was a record.  We're starting to do a bit more teaching of our kids about earthquake safety and I'm looking at my emergency supplies in a new light.  Apparently September is national emergency preparedness month (apparently?) -- -anyway, I picked up a couple more items for our kit today. I add a few things now and then in an attempt to get it closer to the 72 hour kit ideal, but no so big that Brent loses patience with it..... hmmm Today's additions were these emergency whistles with compasses and a few other cool features and a small sleeping bag - this is only the second sleeping bag in the kit, but there are those mylar blankets in there.  In concept we should have time to grab actual sleeping bags but like to have some as back up.  In DC we had whistles like this for building collapses so that might have been inspired by the earthquake...

10.  We planted fall garden! I forget pretty much every year, but we made some small attempts this year.  I'm not super optimistic about all these things actually maturing before cold weather, but who knows!  Our sprinklers broke right after the big rainstorm so M is now in charge of watering the garden lightly 2x a day.  So far, so good!

Friday, September 2, 2016

News from our new routine: Right Now

3 happy kids as summer wound down and headed in to school year adventures. 

I like lists and have been missing Ten on Tuesdays so here is a look at where we are "Right Now."

1. Back to school is kind of hard on my.  I go from a house full of people all day to usually just me. I am a people person and it still is a little confusing that I telecommute given that, but it is so good in so many other ways.  Luckily, my mom has been around a few days a week of late dropping in here and there, but still definitely lonely. This, inevitably, lead to an emotional discussion with Brent on wholly unrelated topics that we both knew was really about my difficultly with transitions and the intense logistics of back to school when all of us, one way or another, have our daytime driving by school calendars. (Brent and I work for two different schools, our 3 kids go to 2 different schools... uh huh).  We LOVE education. Anyway, a lot is changing and going on so I wanted to hit some high and not so highlights here.

2. THE most exciting things this back to school revolve around B, which is cool. B is, like his daddy, not the world's "most" enthusiastic/emotive person on a daily basis.  Last year was hard with transitioning schools, a more demanding teacher, and adapting to all the newness.  This year is off to an amazing start.  He has the only male teacher in the school and LOVES it.  Loves his teachers, the class, looks forward to it, and seems to be thriving.  He has maybe found a new best buddy or two as well, which rocks.  He is willingly doing the very minimal homework he has and reveling in knowing he is really good at some of these things like reading and math.  He is excited about and enjoying 2 hours a week of enrichment (gifted and talented program).  He just seems baseline happier, more cooperative, more chatty, every day.  Such a relief.

3. There is MORE big news for B.  Remember his love of swim team this summer? Well, yesterday he finally started swimming with the King Marlin Swim Club (KMSC). I could probably write a whole post on our kids' activities they have tried and done, but not been passionate about.  We have had the opportunity to expose them to a lot of things and they have taken us up on it.  So far, B has tried - soccer (1.5 years), baseball (1.5 years), basketball (2 weeks?), archery (3 months), Tennis (4 months), Spanish (1.5 years)--- some he liked more than others, but rarely was he really all in.  He is SO all in to swimming.  He has been looking forward to it, practicing his strokes when we visit the neighborhood pool, helping gather supplies for the new team, and being very accepting of the new schedule that means swim team practice 4x a week for 45 minutes. We have never committed this level of time or resources to an activity, but also it never felt like there was an interest. I missed taking him to the first day of KMSC practice because the other 2 kids had teacher/parent meetings. We prepped him with information from our neighborhood coach whose kids swim for this club as well.  She is amazing.  Grandma took him and there were no problems, just 100 or more kids swimming hard. From school/neighborhood teams he knows maybe a dozen including one of those new buddies from school!  He came back super pumped and super starving.  He wants to compete asap.  He says they swam more laps yesterday than in all of the summer combined and yet he loved it.  We are so completely thrilled that he has found something he loves to do that is good for his body, good for the practice of routine exercise, good for his psychology and just plain fun.  Hooray for swimming and GO Marlins!

4.  M is maybe more of a mixed bag.  Lucky for us our kids seem to take turns with the highs and lows.  M is fine.  Her teacher is super enthusiastic and different from last year.  M says they spend a lot of time in circle time and her back hurts.  She is making new friends as some of her best friends are in other classes.  She is having nagging stomach issues, but maybe improving with the acid reflux.  Most of her issues, I think, are at home.  There is a lot of whiny and way too much lying about whether or not she has done what we told her too.  We are tightening up her supervision and basically watching everything she does to verify it is happening.  I doubt it is fun for her and it isn't for us, but we really have to help her build habits of cleanliness, honesty, and good health.  She is leaving chores half done by, for example, putting clothes that go in her drawers in the video game baskets.... So, there's that.

5.  The better news for M is her love of horses and english riding.  She doesn't even need to get on the horses.  She would love to just hang around in the stables and smell them...yes, you read that right.  We arrive at riding lessons 15-30 minutes early most week so she has time to wander the stables.  This week she is being promoted to group riding lessons which are the same price as the semi-private (2 rider) lessons of last month, but now last an entire hour.  She is psyched.  She is reading non-fiction and fiction books about horses. Sometimes a large number if imaginary horses live in our backyard.  She practices posting at the bus stop and everywhere else.  She has a whole area of her room which is a stable area for her toy horses.  It is definitely obsession level.  I don't see, yet, the need to compete that B has with swimming. She just enjoys doing it and being with the animals and I'm just as happy to invest the money in lessons v. competitions and all the gear that goes with it.  Saturday riding lessons are the best part of her week and she is so antsy to go before hand that she can barely handle it. (As a reminder prior to this she has tried dance lessons - 3 different years), Gymnastics 2.25 years, soccer - 1 season, swim team - summer, french - 2 years, girl scouts - ongoing) she tends to alternate between dance and gymnastics and prefers dance of the two, but with nothing like the fervor of the horse riding.  M loves to perform so weeks and weeks of lessons for one performance doesn't really match that although I know as she got older there would be more performance opportunities.  For now, we're fully embracing the love of horses and riding.  She says she wants to be a riding instructor when she grows up.

6. My poor, sweet E is exhausted.  Pre-K for him is actually more time in school than our bigger kids spend.  He, I'm told, does not nap at school.  When he is tired, he goes super fast --- think running all over, which is confusing.  He stops listening and starts hitting people or throwing things.  You can imagine how well evenings are going right now. I think he will adapt, but it is taking some time.  We had his parent/teacher group meeting yesterday and while the comments from his teacher were directed at all the parents I feel sure E is doing all of these things - taking off all his clothes to go potty, not always wiping well, not washing his hands with all the steps (water, soap, rub hands, rinse, dry), being distracted at lunch/not eating, not staying in his chair at lunch/snacktime, not keeping hands to themselves, forgetting to say please and thank  you, wearing a belt, forgetting to go to the bathroom before going to school, should I continue? These are all really life skills not academic ones, but they are things 4 year olds struggle with and we're trying to do a better job of emphasizing them here too.  Scandalously, I accidentally sent him in black rather than navy pants on Thursday.  Who knew we even had black dress pants for him? There was a stern note.

 This week's pre-K color is "yellow" (They are reading all curious george books, obvi) and the theme is "letting your light shine." So we're trying to emphasize that at home too and making sure his light is shining before he goes to school.  This is basically a reminder to be kind to everyone, share, help, talk nicely, mind your teachers, not throw fits, etc..  We talk about ways he is shining his light and try to keep him focused on that.... we shall see how that goes.  It is really hard to have all the tired struggles as I know he remains my sweet, snuggly, adoring boy under all that, but right now he is struggling through transition too and we're trying to help, but do have to also do a lot of parenting to keep him on the path. We, amazingly, did remember to bring his show and share item today - yellow, as requested.  He chose "sunshine bear," which seems perfectly on theme.  I"m excited for a more relaxed weekend with him, reading his new favorite ninja turtles in space book Grandma brought him yesterday.

7. Brent is actually the happiest and least stressed in the fall as he is mostly just teaching classes not doing quite as many of the administrative/camp things.  He is taking E to school two days a week and maybe coming home to cover swimming lessons some days too.  The thing about all school and these activities for our kids is they require a lot of logistics from us and getting everyone to the right place with the right stuff. For example, there can be 15 lunches to be made, 15 folders to review, 10 snacks to pack, etc...  We're working on being a true team on this front so we each really know what is needed and work through the prep together so neither of us goes crazy.  We're also working on the kids doing more of the prep themselves - especially things like lunch and snacks.  (Hooray!).  Otherwise, Brent is getting ready for football season with his dad, playing games with Gavin and Eric, doing lots of LEGOs with the kids, brainstorming fixes for the camps for next year,  and preparing for some of my upcoming trips away.

Yes, you read that right, I'm going to leave the chaos for a ridiculously brief trip in Sept. and then again in October. I should note that I was, in fact, for possibly the only month so far this year actually in Oklahoma every single day of August.

So that's pretty much where we are now.  Trying to adapt on lots of fronts and so, so excited for a three day weekend. 


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