But how do you do it all?

If they are capable of building a different and interesting train track, like this, every single day during their lunch hour, perhaps I’m not expecting enough of them work-wise, here at the house. Look at this thing! It goes under the tables, over bridges, through Grand Central Station. It’s a work of art!

All those boxes that are still packed up? Perhaps they could help more than I think.

The vacuuming? I think they could do it.

Folding clothes without my help? Maybe even. They fold clothes now, but it’s always alongside me. Maybe these children are ready for more responsibility.

Why am I pondering how much work I can get out of my children: because I have way, way more work than I can possibly do right now! No, really. really really really. Then why am I blogging instead of cleaning, you ask? Humph! No one can be “on” allll day long. This mom of four needs down time in a serious way.

This one will be short, as I do actually have chicken in the oven. Also, I need to check on Caleb. He’s in the backyard playing with a friend. Did I say friend? Yes, you heard me right. The boys have made friends with the boys right behind us. I’m hoping they can regularly just play in the backyards. I can see them. Everyone is happy.

So HOW am I doing “it all”, people sometimes ask. Well, I’m not. I am most certainly not doing it all. I am simply living by the clock. There’s a schedule, and once the time is up for something, the time is up, whether the task is finished or not, we just close up shop and move on. For example, if it is 12:00, and we are not finished with Grammar, we simply stop where we are and go to lunch. We can do more Grammar lessons the next day. I figure that’s how things are done in public or private school, right? If a teacher’s lunch period arrives, but she wasn’t finished with grammar, she simply has to stop. The day ends at 2:50 whether your class is finished or not, so that is how we are running home school. 

The thing I’m struggling with the most is finding time to clean and unpack our new home and decorate or shop or read. 

I spent a long time in prayer Sunday morning. I didn’t go to church. I had a snotty baby and a scratchy throat, so JD and I had a blissful morning at home. It was so much easier to pray with less folks in the house!!! I prayed about my schedule, my priorities, the blog, lots of things, and I got some really great direction.

Here is my current schedule:  

6:00 am I wake up and stumble down the stairs to get coffee.

6:10 Plop myself down in “my chair” (worn-out-wonderful old recliner) with my coffee and my Bible, while silently hoping the boys will sleep, sleep, sleep at least 50 more minutes….

I really don’t understand anyone that cannot appreciate a wonderful old worn-out recliner. When I am old, I am going to have several!!  And I’m going to sit to my heart’s content!

6:30ish They begin trickling down stairs. Caleb or Daniel come first. They are always just starving when they come down. We eat cereal for breakfast. It was good enough for me when I was a kid, so I figure it’s good enough for them. :) Hang out with boys and with Alan.  Empty dishwasher. Reboot laundry.

We have conversations like this:

Alan: Hey, April, we need to talk about *something serious I don’t want to talk about= money, appointments, calling people*

April: Nooo, *groan* It’s just too early to talk about that stuff. I need to have coffee first.

Alan: What, sigh, April, at night you’ll say it’s just too late to talk about that stuff, so we’re talking about it now. We have to.”

 

Question: Is this just me? Surely there are others of you out there that have these sort of conversations. I’d be so happy if I could just do without appointments, calling people, or finances, or paper work of any kind. 

7:30 Get dressed, fix hair, etc. 

8:00 Oh yeah! We have a baby. Grab the monitor. There’s JD, just standing in his crib, waiting. Poor 4th baby.

Feed JD, wash more dishes, clean the high chair, rally the boys, hopefully discuss a couple of Bible verses with them…and….

9:00 Time for school!  Whether I ever finished brushing my teeth or not. I just live by the clock. We’re Americans. This is what we do. ;)

Boys begin seatwork: spelling, math practice, writing practice, grammar practice–whatever their curriculum throws at them.

10:00 Snack

10:15 Put baby down for nap.

10:20-12:00 2nd grade Math

 3rd grade Math

2nd grade Phonics and Reading

3rd grade Grammar

I just do exactly what the teacher’s guide tells me to do. After all, this is my first year, and since I only have two students (By this point Daniel is in his room playing.) Sometimes Joshua’s math takes longer than Caleb’s and vice/versa, depending on the mood of the student and the material.

Caleb has made HUGE strides in reading already. He read me a brand new book from the library today with very few errors. I was impressed. 

12:00 Lunch. I have a lunch menu hanging in the kitchen and everything. The second day, I told Joshua he had to eat his chicken chowder. Caleb said, “Mom, at our school, if you don’t like it you just don’t eat, and you don’t get anything else either, and nobody bothers you about it.”

Ha! Actually, I decided that would make my life a little easier, so the boy was just a little less full that afternoon. Whatever.

12:40ish: This is where the times start to get looser. I read to the boys. First, I read a nonfiction book. Then I read a chapter from a chapter book, but usually one chapter turns into another and then another and another. I have always loved reading to them. We all sit on the love-seat together, and JD is still in bed, and it’s just so wonderful. It’s the best part of the day.

….Then at 1pm, I think, “OH yeah!!  JD!!”  I snatch up the monitor, and there he is, standing up, chewing on the side of his crib, quiet and well rested.

After I take care of all of JD’s immediate needs, we resume class. In the afternoon, we do our Classical Conversations memory work, handwriting, and map work. I think the map work is really fun. I just introduced it today. The boys have to trace and label a map of the United States every single day. They will learn all of the states and their capitals and where they are located this year. I even got Daniel a map, which he scribbled all over with a dry erase marker. 

Somedays we do a science activity, and certain days we learn history. For now, we’ve been ending by 1:45 pm, but I know once memory work starts, it will be closer to 3pm. 

After school, I always need to rest a bit before I return to chores, and so do the boys. The boys get free time, and I just get in the floor and chill with Daniel and John David. Everyone wins. 

Today, around 4:30 pm, I was cooking dinner, and I’d had all I could take of the boys running around, wrecking my nice new house.  I kicked the two big ones out into the backyard. I told them to go make some friends, and they did. They made several, from the houses right behind us. Our backyards run right into each other.  One adorable little 6-year-old with a really cute lisp came to our backdoor with Caleb, and Caleb said, “Mom, can my new friend come in?”

I told him he could, if it was okay with his mother.

The sweet little fella’ said, “She said I can go anywhere, as long as I don’t cross the street.”

I giggled. “Well, Caleb can go with you to ask if you may come in. That way she will know where you are.”

That made them happy, and they ran off to ask. Once Daniel saw the new friend, my fun was over because he insisted on putting his shoes on and going out to play too. 

Drat. If Dan goes out, I go out, because he is still little, but you know what? I’m so glad he dragged me out because I met the parents of Caleb’s new friend, as well as their neighbors. Everyone was so nice, and we all have several little boys. I would say things are looking up. About 6pm, Alan arrived, so he got to meet everyone too. 

Then we said good-bye to our new friends, and we came inside, and guess what was waiting for us! I don’t have the pictures uploaded yet, but I will soon. We received a package from a dear family of friends from Virginia. Joshua grabbed the giant envelope with glee, “It’s a whole envelope FULL of letters from Xavier!!!” he exclaimed. Well, close. It was a bag of souvenirs for us from their Disney World vacation. I got an adorable Anna pin!  THANK YOU!!! We miss you all SO much! It’s a rare thing to make such great friends.

That was the kind of surprise that made our day really fun. 

Once supper was over, JD and I headed off to the grocery store. I just refuse to buy groceries with 4 little boys in tow. I’m not much of a warrior. By the time I got home it was 9pm, and there was still plenty of things to take care of.

Now it’s 10:27, and I have a hard and fast rule that I MUST be in bed at 10:30 to survive my days, so I suppose that is all for tonight!

 

 

 

 

 

The Just-Moved-In Phase

Life kicked me around a little bit this week.

A lot of things happened:  not unpacking. Not much of that happened at all. First, there was the whole beginning home-schooling thing–which I did before I even finished unpacking my house. (Maybe that wasn’t my BEST idea.) Then there was the energy problem. As in, I just don’t have enough–especially after 1pm. What is that?

Second, we’re in that whole just-moved-in phase. We are still learning our area and even our own neighborhood. I finally figured out that the houses on both sides of me are occupied by couples with no children. I felt kind of bad for my own children when I figured that out…..as we sat on our balcony and watched the neighbors about three houses down, across the street,  all having front yard gatherings every afternoon. Their little girls all ride their power wheels back and forth and back and forth, and my children watch longingly from the porch.

Don’t even say it. Don’t say, “Go over there and introduce yourself.” If you say that, then you just don’t know me at all. I know I may seem like Mrs. Outgoing, but when I first move to a place I am not that at all. When I first move somewhere, I like to completely draw into my shell, go completely silent and just watch and listen while I figure things out.  I can’t help it. That’s just what I do.

Besides, you can tell when you look at their group that they are having fun just the way that it is. They have probably been friends for a while, and our barging in would only be a nuisance, I’m sure. Then I would feel awkward. Nah. No, thanks.

We have made a few friends at church, and when the boys’ home school group starts we will meet more people. I’m not worried about that, really. I’m more worried about finding a babysitter that can handle four little boys!!

This week we did manage to find the best playground in the neighborhood. It is AWESOME. Photos to come soon! I did get a silent chuckle at Caleb making fast friends with a bunch of little girls from Pakistan and their brother Mohammed.  There’s a large population of Pakistan students here, studying Military Defense.  Anyway, I just couldn’t help but notice the irony of Caleb David having a ball over there with Mohammed and his sisters.  (Please say you get it. The names: Mohammed and Joshua and Caleb David. And Daniel!! ) Caleb had a blast playing Ghosts in the Graveyard with these girls. Caleb makes friends more easily than anyone I’ve ever seen in my life. He has no idea what a wonderful gift that is!!! 

Wednesday night I came down with a super snotty head cold, and the rest of the week after that was kind of a blur. We somehow made it through. Caleb can now rattle off vowels and their sounds at high speed, and Joshua began learning multiplication, measurement, you name it. 

Thankfully, I had Alan here today, so we got a TON accomplished. The Goodwill donations finally went to Goodwill. Pictures are now hanging downstairs. Trash was taken to the dumpster. Oh! And Alan took our three oldest boys over to the house right behind us to meet their three boys, which are almost the exact same ages as Joshua, Caleb, and Daniel!! They also do Cub Scouts, so hopefully we’ll get the boys back in scouts soon. 

Right now Alan is upstairs studying hard. I’m actually watching TV!!!  This never happens: the t.v.watching, that is. 

I’ve questioned this home school decision plenty of times, but at the end of the day I remind myself that I’m glad I’m doing it. I can feel certain that the boys will be where they need to be academically at the end of this year. Academics have always been important to me. I’m also hoping to work on some character issues that I see in them, since I have more time with them. The “experiment” part of this year will be to see if this huge sacrifice I’m making is worth it.  How much of a difference will it make? Will I be able to be HAPPY doing this? Will the boys be happy? Will I be able to keep up with the housekeeping, the meals, and ever get to do anything fun? That’s what I’m interested to see. I think it’ll take a lot more than just a week to get those answers. This is something I’ve just always kind of wanted to do. I promise to finish out this year, and we’ll decide about next school year once this one is finished!

 

 

Our First Three Days of Home School

 

the 3rd day

We have made it through our first three days of home school. Only 2 more days until the weekend!!  Is it bad that I’m counting down to the weekend already??

This week is all about figuring out how I want to do this. I’m pretty sure the whole year will be about that really. Every single day has brought a different set of challenges. The first day it was Daniel in the afternoon. The second day it was a battle of the wills with Joshua. Today it was a nap time struggle with JD and several phone calls and door knocks. I’m always torn on whether or not to answer these things. 

The biggest change today that I made was the behavior system. Alan suggested, after yesterday’s battle of the wills, that I switch to the color system that the boys’ elementary school used. In their eyes, everything that our Virginia school did was the golden standard of what should happen at school, so anything that I can do that is like their old school will be well accepted. 

Boy, was Alan right. We made a very official looking chart last night for the boys to track their behavior. Joshua walked in this morning, saw it hanging on the wall, and said, “Oh, ya made the colors chart, eh?” Then he giggled, “You used Candy Land cards.”

Hey. The Candy Land cards are perfect little color squares, and I was rather proud of Alan for thinking of it. :)

I consider this our first great victory of home-schooling. This worked like a charm. The threat of being changed to blue or even yellow saved my school day. Everyone managed to earn their way back to orange by the end of the day, and that was an accomplishment because one student spent some time on yellow, let me tell you.

What am I talking about? Well, everyone starts out on orange. If you’ve been warned, but you still aren’t obeying, you get changed to blue. You have to go up to the front of the class and change your color yourself. If you continue to cause problems for your teacher, you go to yellow.

If you are an amazing and exemplary student, you can even earn double orange. 

Today feels like that Mary Tyler Moore song, “You might just make it after all!” Where’s a hat I can thrown in the air??? 

The Dan Plan: Dan must do a craft every day. This keeps him extremely happy and well occupied. He’s actually an AMAZING student. He runs and sits in his seat every morning, first thing. He never argues with me, and he always finishes his work without complaining. He also doesn’t bother anyone……Well, he does bother JD. I can’t imagine what it’s like to have THREE older brothers. I hope you all treat JD with a huge dose of grace. I can’t tell you what he goes through.

Dan wants to do EVERYTHING his brothers do. They love show and tell.

Academically, the kids are off to a high-flying start. The first week is review material, so they’ve found it very easy, especially Caleb. This has made Caleb very easy to deal with. Caleb is a wonderful student, as long as he doesn’t feel intimidated. Actually, Caleb’s happy attitude has been a life-saver. Thank you so much, Caleb!!!  I’m taking him to the pool Friday to reward him for being such a positive influence in our school.

A Beka Math is no joke, though, so I have to introduce multiplication to Joshua on Friday. It’s in the review section. Ha! Joshua’s never done multiplication. I’m so thankful his teacher last year made him do so much addition and subtraction practice, though. He’s had two addition speed drills this week, and he aced them both with flying colors–way under the time limit. 

Also, I assessed their reading levels using a test that only went to 5th grade. Joshua scored perfectly, so I know he’s at least at a 5th grade reading level. Caleb’s score was still in the 1st grade level, but I expected as much. 

I kind of feel like I will learn as much as they will this year. I know I’m going to have to make serious strides in self-discipline and patience!!

QUOTES!!

1. Caleb:  I just want to sit by Joshua!

2. Joshua….on a different day: I just want to play with Caleb!!

While it’s a little sad that we don’t have friends, I do appreciate how much closer we are all growing as a family.

3.We heard knocking on the door. Joshua ran to the window. “It’s ups!  It’s ups!”

Me:  “Huh? What’s ups??”  I looked out the window and spotted the UPS truck. “Ohhhhh. It’s called UPS, boys. Yes, Joshua, go get your package.” (He was excitedly waiting for a new book he’d ordered.)

One thing you don’t have to worry about is the boys being with other kids. They truly are each other’s entertainment. Right now two of them are in Joshua and Caleb’s room, discussing costumes and Lego creations.

 

I would also like to say thank you to Donna!! Donna has been sending me wonderful Pinterest links on teaching ideas. Keep ‘em coming, Donna!  I’ve found some great ideas this way.  

I need to say thank you to Alan too. He’s in up to his eye balls in school work, but he’s been coming home everyday and picking up toys, vacuuming floors, and folding laundry. What would I do without you???

By the way, my house still has almost nothing on the wall, and the boxes are not all unpacked yet. When will we ever have time???

Home school perk: I don’t have to build Dan’s tracks anymore. Joshua and Caleb happily did this for me. Roll tide!!

I’m #4! Yahoo!!

Many of you took extra minutes out of your day to help me out when I was nominated for VoiceBoks.com’s Top 10 of Military Blogs. That meant a lot to me that you would take the time to do that, so I want you all to see that your votes added up, and this blog landed at the #4 spot. 

To see the whole top 10 and the write-up about my blog, just click here: Top 10 Military Blogs on VoiceBoks.com

It’s so exciting to be in the top 10 for something. As an adult, we don’t win a whole lot of accolades/awards/etc, so this is super exciting for me. Thank you so much for reading and voting.

I’m also happy to report we made it through our 1st day of school.  We managed to start at 9am and be finished by 1:45pm.  Classes go faster when you’re teaching 4 rather than 28. I told Alan I’m so worried, just about keeping up with all my different jobs as a wife/mom/blogger/teacher. Alan said that in his line of work they say that when you’re juggling a lot, remember that some balls are rubber and some are glass. You just gotta make sure you don’t drop any of the glass ones. The rubber ones will bounce back.

Can’t I just find a nice china cabinet for the glass ones?? I need a nap.  No, really, after listening to Caleb read 10 books today and coping with Daniel’s interruptions I could really use a nap!!

Caleb wins the “most enthused” award. I kept trying to end school, but Caleb kept wanting to read more books to me. I took full advantage of it. One of the main reasons we are doing this is that I want to catch Caleb up in reading. Last year, getting him to read or write at school was a struggle. This year I just want him to be home so I can stay on top of him!

This child is so ridiculously adorable……..and apparently the blue marker was a mistake. 

I wish I’d gotten a JD photo!!!

Positives: 

I will EASILY be able to bring Caleb up to where I’d like him to be in reading this year. He is easily motivated by rewards involving Disney Infinity. 

Joshua was able to pay attention without all the extra noise of a regular classroom. I noticed that even when it was Caleb’s turn to answer a question, if Caleb took more than a second, I was already losing Joshua. I’m still feeling intimidated about having to introduce Joshua to both multiplication and division in the same year. However, I do think math is easier to teach than English.

I still feel like I can do this. This week we are only doing reading, writing, math, and learning cursive. We won’t begin Classical Conversations until after Labor Day. I did make them listen to the Timeline Song, though. We are just easing into it.

JD was surprisingly good.

Negatives:

Daniel.

John David.

Seriously. Especially Daniel. JD is a good napper, so that was a lifesaver. I definitely need to work on my Dan Plan!!

Falling in Love with the Pacific

This morning I took a break. Trust me, if you took care of four little bitty boys all day, every single day, you would need a break too.

It was THE most blessed, wonderful thing in the world. Do you know what Jesus used to do, when people were following him around all the time, begging for help? Over and over again, the Bible tells us that Jesus woke up before everyone, went up on the mountain, and prayed. 

Now let’s NOT get technical here. Focus on the idea: separating yourself from others to pray, and to think, and to be renewed. No, I did not do the “waking up before everyone else” thing. I have a sleep debt going back a long, long way. Plus Alan wakes up so early, so it’s pretty much impossible to wake up before he does. 

No, I did not go up on a mountain. I went somewhere even BETTER!

I parked in one of the $1.50/hour lots, but then I hiked past all the people, the wharf, the kayakers. Then I came to this really rocky area:

But I kept on walking. Then I came to this:

That got me thinking. All in. Am I “all in”? Am I “all in” what?? Am I an “all in” Christian? Am I an “all in” school teacher? Am I an “all in” mom?

I decided I definitely DO want to be ‘All in’. Yes, I want that to be me. All in–whatever it takes.

Then I finally found myself a great spot to put my beach towel down and have a sit. Before long, I wanted to be “all in” the Pacific Ocean.

It was so exciting–the exhilarating, wind-in-your-hair, no one asking you any questions, I-don’t-ever-want-to-leave kind of exciting. Ya’ll! It was unreal. Do you know what I saw!??  First, I saw a sea lion or two swimming by. At first, I didn’t believe it, but then it came closer and was completely unmistakeable. Sorry, I didn’t get any pictures. I’m just not that quick. I meant to sit back on my blanket and read my Bible, which I had brought with me. I couldn’t do it. I was afraid I’d miss something, so I opened up the Good Book to Psalms, read about the beauty of God, and thought, “Yes! I feel as though I have never been closer to the beauty of God than right here!” because just then MORE things started going by!!  It was smaller than a sea lion. I guess it was a seal. It came, not swimming, but leaping by. Leaping out of the water as it swam!!! I was plumb giddy. This went on for 10 minutes–one–and then another one–LEAPING up into the air!!!

I have never before wanted to don a scuba suit and jump in there, until today. If I could have, believe me I would have–oddest thing for me, as I like to play it safe on the shore, but today I felt like DIVING in there and swimming with those seals!!

I would have just sat there and stared at this ocean full of wildlife for HOURS, only something very regrettable happened. I had only put $1.50 in the meter. What do they do to you if you go over? I suppose they give you a ticket. Is that really so terribly frightening to make me give up this front row seat that I had!??? Well, I suppose it was because I hiked my way back to the parking lot. :(

I put some money in the meter and went off in search for a place to eat. I finally settled for a sandwich shop. I sat down at a table for some more BLESSED alone time, but as soon as I sat down, the older man at the table next to mine started talking to me. Isn’t that always how it goes? Ha! But he was a perfectly nice Fresno man. He was a car enthusiast, in town for the car show. He was wearing the red car show shirt, with the red car show hat, and he was all about it. I later learned that that symbol he was wearing has something to do with a certain type of sports car. He proudly informed me that he has three of them and 20 motorcycles. 

He asked me one of the hardest questions I’ve been asked in a while, “So what car is your favorite?”

“I’m sorry. What?” I asked.

“I mean what make/model do you like the best?”

I’m pretty sure “mini van” was not the answer he was looking for….”Oh, I like the classic cars more so than the sports cars.”

He nodded approval. Phew. Glad he didn’t ask any more questions!!!

I returned home to find Alan, in the garage, working on his bicycle. I love you, Alan. Thank you for spending your money on four little boys and a wife who likes pretty clothes, rather than motorcycles and Ferraris. :) As I speak, Alan is diligently working on hanging our baby gates, which he had to make some extenders, out of wood, for because our staircase is too wide for standard baby gates. 

The boys certainly noticed that there was a car show in town. This was a BIG thing. There were sports cars and specialty cars EVERYWHERE. We were out driving, and Caleb asked, “Why are there race cars everywhere?”  We actually were at a stop sign behind a Lamborghini, in front of a Ferrarri. 

We took the boys to the beach for a Classical Conversations beach picnic this afternoon, and we saw DOLPHINS. All of this wildlife comes so close to the shore because the “shelf” is really close to the beach here. I love it. I definitely see a lot of beach days in our future. 

This afternoon, as it was nearing sunset, Joshua pointed to the beautiful, sun-streaked sky and said, “Look, Mom, there’s Heaven over there.” 

I had to agree. It did look like Heaven.

Of course, I have taken lots of photos to share. Sorry, I did not get a photo of the Heaven-ly sky. :(

I want all of our friends and family to know that we maintain our open invitation to come visit us and stay at our house. This is DEFINITELY a vacation worth taking. 

Even the trees here are different. What is this kind of tree called?  I would really like to know!

These were not from today, just from the last couple of weeks:

Don’t let Caleb fool you. He had a blast. Why does he think it’s fun to mess with my pictures??

The white seal kept waving at us. So fun!

We really should’ve just excused Caleb from photos that day….

I can’t believe we really live here!!! :) :) :)