Posted by: whimsigal | January 9, 2009

We’re losing things here

Check out Ryan’s new look:

I can’t believe it. He lost his first tooth!!!! Oh my goodness!!! He’s going to be 7 in a couple of months and I can’t believe that either. He’s my baby but not a baby by any means. Oh!!! It’s just crazy how fast the time goes by.

I’m glad he was here with me when he lost it. He was SOOO excited about it. I think I am still in shock.

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Posted by: whimsigal | January 6, 2009

Woo! Happy New Year!

At the end of 2008, my husband took two weeks off from work to spend time with us during the holidays and it was wonderful. It was life changing! Not only were we able to reconnect as a family but Sean and I really kicked some ass and got some projects done around the house. Do you know that our Master Bathroom was not functional for two years? Well, that has changed. Sean took care of it and now it feels like such a luxury not to have four people sharing a bathroom!! We also took a long hard look at our “stuff” and purged, purged, and purged some more until we had two carloads of things to donate to charity. Toys, kids clothes, adult clothes, shoes, Christmas decorations. It was CRAZY and it felt good to get rid of it all. We weren’t using it and they were in good condition so it felt good to pass it along to someone else.

In addition to the “stuff” exodus that took place over the holiday, we also cleaned the heck out of our house. It’s amazing how good it feels to go to bed when you don’t have to dig down through a pile of clothes to find it. Know what I’m saying? Sean and I have both said that we feel like we have a whole new house because we have rooms that were unusable before and are now a part of our daily life. It’s so nice and relaxing!! Now, the challenge is to keep it clean but so far so good. I think since the house is in a good place right now, I can maintain it with a little effort on my part and a little help from the family.

Last night, we had a perfect example of family help. I had been asking Ryan to tidy up his room for a couple of days and he kept putting it off. It wasn’t a terrible mess but it wasn’t far from that so I wanted to nip it in the bud. Well, last night, things came to a head. He put his foot down and he wasn’t going to do it at all. He wanted me to do it. Instead, we made a deal. I had some work of my own to do, mainly empty the dishwasher and fold the laundry. In my frustration with Ryan’s lack of cooperation I said, “ryan you know you can come empty the dishwasher and fold the laundry so I can clean your room.” I was not seriously expecting him to take me up on it but he did. So we switched. I cleaned his room and he emptied the dishwasher. I ended up folding the laundry but that was my choice. He was really proud of the job he did putting away the dishes, too. If he didn’t know where something went, he would come upstairs and ask me where it should go. I was really impressed with the seriousness with which he approached the task and in the end, his room was clean and the dishes were put away so it didn’t really matter who did what.

Now we’re slowly working our way into 2009. I’m focusing on my children and my business and even my home! The kids are reading on their own, Ryan has started putting together math principles on his own, and both are exploring new creative outlets daily. Our lives feel very rich and blessed and 2009 feels like it’s going to be a really good year!

Happy New Year, friends!

Posted by: whimsigal | December 29, 2008

What Do You Do?

I’m beginning to feel like Ebenezer Scrooge. The words, “bah humbug” are floating around in my head and I don’t like it! Christmas has in the past been one of my favorite holidays, not because I receive presents but because of all the camaraderie that revolved around the holiday. When Sean and I were first dating, he invited me over to his house on Christmas Eve and I loved it. It was joyful and boisterous. His father sat in “his” chair and his mother sat in hers like a modern day Archie and Edith, doling out gifts and jokes all in one fell swoop. The love that filled that room was tangible, breathable, drinkable. You would have had to be a soulless person not to feel it and I was drunk from it. Not only was I in love with Sean but I was in love with his family, too. Going to my in-laws on Christmas Eve and spending Christmas Day with my family became the tradition that was honored for many years. Three years into our relationship and three months before Iain was born, my father-in-law passed away. We still had Christmas Eve at my MIL’s house but obviously things had drastically changed. After Ryan was born and Iain was a bit older, I think around 5 or so, we decided that going to my MIL’s on Christmas Eve was too much. It left us with a lot of work to do to get the kids presents ready for the next morning and I was yearning to start traditions of our own. So we bowed out that year. It was lonely and we went the next year. Then we bowed out again. This time, it was more because of drama between my MIL and me than anything else. I’d be lying if I said otherwise. Not completely because of that because I did want the boys to grow up with a sense of Christmas tradition in their own home but the angst between my MIL and myself certainly didn’t make me feel inclined to head over there and celebrate the holiday with her.

Now instead of going to my MIL’s we stay home on Christmas Eve, just the four of us, and while it is very nice to be at home and not out running around, I would be dishonest if I said Christmas was perfect that way. It has always been my dream to celebrate a big family Christmas. When my sister and I were kids, we didn’t have any family in town until we were older, so we either traveled over the holiday or we stayed home by ourselves. Sometimes our grandparents would come up but many Christmases were spent with just the four of us. I think I’ve been seduced by all the holiday hype and marketing that says Christmas isn’t Christmas without the big family get together, I don’t know. At any rate, I feel like instead of focusing on family, I’ve been focusing on myself and what I want. Is that what I’ve been doing? Am I depriving my children of some Hallmark-perfect memories because I want to begin traditions with them of our own? Am I making it harder than it is?

Things are still rough and unsteady between my in-laws and myself. My MIL and SIL came over the day after Christmas to see the boys and give them their gifts and it was reeeeally awkward. Not on my or Sean’s parts but it was very obvious that they were uncomfortable and would have rather been anywhere else than in our home. They didn’t stay long and hugs were exchanged before they left but still. Neither of them wanted to make eye-contact with me and any that was made was incidental and brief. They had to interact with us because the kids are kids and they did their own thing. It upsets me that after all this time since our fight (one year in March) and even after an apology was given, they are still holding a grudge. Sean could care less because the way he sees it, we didn’t socialize with them much to begin with but for me I just want the boys to know them. Life isn’t perfect and relationships aren’t either. There are family members on my side that I don’t associate with for various reasons but I was hoping to spare my boys of that.

This year, Sean and the boys and I spent Christmas Eve together and it was really wonderful! This was the first year that we’ve done something where I really felt like the boys were into it and I think I can begin to see what our tradition will be. Instead of dinner, we had appetizers which was much more casual and comfortable. The boys were allowed to open the gifts they got each other and then we snuggled up and watched a couple of our favorite Christmas movies. We let the boys choose. 🙂 After that, they put out the milk and cookies for Santa then headed off to bed leaving Sean and me to enjoy a little Christmas magic of our own. We watched “A Christmas Story” and “White Christmas” and wrapped the boys’ gifts before putting them under the tree. It was cozy, homey, and fun! Christmas morning was great and the boys really loved all their gifts. Later in the day, I hosted the annual Christmas dinner for my family (my in-laws are invited but never come) and it was wonderful as well. Here are a few pics for you from Christmas Day:

Xbox Joy

Skateboard Joy

Santa Cake
This is a 3-layer red velvet cake mixed with white cake. It usually has crushed peppermint candies sprinkled on the frosting but a few folks don’t like the peppermint so I omitted it this year.

the fam
You can see my sister and two BIl’s on one side with my parents on the other. You’re probably wondering about the crowns. Here is more info about them!

party's over

holidaycheer.jpg

I hope you all have enjoyed the holidays thus far and also hope you have a very Happy New Year. We’re planning an evening similar to the one we had on Christmas Eve. Appetizers, movies, and love. Happy New Year friends!!

Posted by: whimsigal | December 16, 2008

Doing Things A Little it Differently

Ever since we made the decision to homeschool, our lives have been in a constant state of change. It’s a necessary component to parenting in general, flexibility I mean. After two and a half years though, it seems as though we have perhaps been too flexible and now we’re starting to rein things in just a bit.

Recently, we started a new bedtime routine which has really been working out incredibly well. See, neither one of my boys have been great sleepers and bedtime for years has been quite a struggle. Now though, it seems they are both old enough to appreciate how it feels to get a good night’s sleep and they have really taken to our new schedule. It used to be really hard to wake them up in the morning, too, and now they come in and wake me up some days! Not that long ago, there would be many tears and huffs and puffs when it was announced that bedtime was near. Now, when they get the 15min warning, all I hear is a cheerful, “Okay!” It’s wonderful!

Until our new routine was put into place, the kids were staying up late and getting up late. While I certainly treasured the private time to myself in the morning, it was hard for Sean and I to watch a movie or have any quality time together because the kids were always up when we were. Now, the boys and I get up in the morning and get a good start on the day. It has been a welcome change around here and I think it has really been good for all of us.

Speaking of watching movies, last night Sean and I watched a movie called, “Once” that was out last year. What a good movie it was! I loved the story although the ending left me a teensy bit sad, and I loved the soundtrack, too. If you haven’t seen it yet, I would highly recommend it and aside from the f-word being uttered a few times, it’s cool for kids to watch it as well, though they might find the subject matter boring. On the DVD, there were a couple of previews of other movies I’d like to see. One is a movie called, “The Namesake” and the other is called “waitress”. I was going to cancel Netflix but now am going to have to wait until I see these two movies!!! Hopefully I will have them by the weekend!

In addition to watching movies, I am in the middle of reading four books right now. There was a time when I would not start reading another book while already in the middle of one but now I kind of appreciate being able to divide my attention between subjects and so I find myself reading a bunch of different things! One book is called “How Much Is Enough” and is about overindulgence, not just in a child’s life but in your own. It has been a fascinating read so far and has shown me a lot about myself. Another book I’m reading is called, “Feeding the Kids” and is a 6-week course in introducing healthier food choices to your family. I like it a lot because it takes the course of not forcing them to try things but to just put it in front of them so they get used to seeing it, and eventually they will try it on their own. I’m only in the beginning of the book but it has been very interesting to say the least. Then, two other books that my mother loaned me are by the girl who played Winnie on the tv show the Wonder Years. She is really good at math and her books are called “Math Doesn’t Suck” and “Kiss My Math”. I suspect that they are geared towards girls since society tends to tell girls they can’t be good at math but since I haven’t really begun to read them yet, I can’t say for sure.

Other goings on around here…Iain is really into a book series called, “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” and the latest version is a journal that kids can keep for themselves. Iain has really taken to writing in it and that has been such a joy to see!
iain and journal.jpg
If you haven’t seen these books, try and look for them if you can. We have read them aloud and they are pretty darn funny at times.

Ryan has been watching videos on You Tube where kids have modified Lego minifigs and have made them into video game characters. As a result he has been begging me for paints of his own so he can do this himself. Well, yesterday I finally relented and bought him some paints and he very eagerly got to work.
ryanpainting1.jpg
It has been hard for him to wait for the paint to dry before moving on to the next step but he has been learning to hold on. He really loves all the detailed work that this kind of painting requires!
ryanpainting2.jpg
I have been suffering lately from a little bit of that nasty homeschooling doubt that comes up from time to time so it has really helped me to sit back and take note of these special moments that the boys have been enjoying here at home. I am just so glad that they are here and can follow their passions as they arise.

Hope all is well with you!

Posted by: whimsigal | December 7, 2008

Gearing up for the holidays

It has begun. The long-awaited countdown to Christmas, Yule, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or whatever holiday you honor at this time of year. We are a secular household but still love a few time-honored traditions. One of them for me is the advent calendar. Its origins can be traced back to 19th century Germany, although my first run-in with one happened in the late 1970’s. A pair of sisters that my friends and I were friends with got them every year from their father who lived in upstate New York. Living in the South, I don’t remember ever seeing such things and they seemed incredibly exotic to my sister and I. These were the days before the internet so it wasn’t like our parents could have just googled “chocolate advent calendar” and come up with a bazillion places to order these delectable works of art. With my eyes glowing with jealousy, I would stare at my friend as she oh so carefully pried open the door on her calendar each day and waited to see what Christmasey image was molded onto the tiny chocolate inside the window. It left such an impression on me! It’s funny because as children, my sister and I didn’t want for much. Our parents spoiled us fairly well but this one thing eluded me every year until I was too old to receive one. Then, I had children of my own and came across a calendar at the grocery store one day. And a new tradition was born.
ryan advent

Every day the boys get up and eagerly look for the day’s date on the calendar, nearly ripping the little tab off of it in their zeal to get to the chocolate waiting for them inside. It brings me such joy to see them heads together, trying to help one another find the right flap to open, and then reveling in the sweet taste of Christmas that they find each day. While I still would love an advent calendar of my own one year, I am incredibly content to see them enjoying this simple thing and hope that it is a memory that they, too, will cherish when they have long since left home. Perhaps they will provide them for their children as well and who knows? Maybe they’ll even get one for dear old mom. 🙂

Posted by: whimsigal | December 2, 2008

Just not feelin’ it these days

Don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s the weather, the fact that I was sick for three weeks straight, the shorter days. I really don’t know exactly but, for whatever reason, I am having a hard time getting into blogging again. Not just blogging either, but all kinds of things. Finding focus has been a real struggle for me, finding motivation has been even harder, and I’m frustrated by all of it but evidently not enough to do something about it.

Is anyone else feeling this way, or is it just me?

I feel in need of inspiration but there are so many things around me that require my attention so I don’t feel like I would see it if it walked up and smacked me in the face. My brain feels scattered, my body feels tired, and my spirit feels malnourished.

Gah, I’m just whining. I’ll probably feel better in the morning. 🙂

Posted by: whimsigal | November 20, 2008

Just got off the phone with my mom

I just had a conversation with my mother, which in and of itself is not particularly remarkable because we talk all the time. In most of the conversation I was annoyed with her as she was expressing her political and religious views of which I am the polar opposite but at the end of the conversation we had a moment. It was completely unexpected and I don’t know if it was as much a moment for her as it was for me but it washed over me like a tsunami and reverberates in me still.

It began innocently enough as a comment from her about her dogs, how one is “good” and the other is “naughty”. How she didn’t understand why they’re so different because she is the same parent to both. I said, “Well, it’s like children. Their own personalities play a huge role in who they are, no matter what the parenting style may be.” The conversation then moved to my niece and how adorable she is, and funny. My mother was trying to think of who my niece is like in our family and she wasn’t really sure of who to say when she suddenly turned her attention to Ryan. My youngest. My passionate youngest child. She said, “Now Ryan? That one is just like me. He is JUST like me!” I wasn’t sure where she was going with this because I had never noticed a similarity in their temperaments or anything so I waited for her explanation. What she told me painted such an image for me that it made me weep, quietly so she wouldn’t hear me.

Last week, the boys went over to my parents house while I went to an appointment. It was a gloomy day, gray and rainy and cold. While I was gone, my mom said that Ryan sat outside on her deck in the rain and she said that she could tell how much he loved it. She stood and watched him from the window for the longest time. He was sitting on their outside dining table, sheltered from the rain by the umbrella, and he was talking to himself and having a good old time. It reminded her of being a little girl in love with the wind. She said she would sit on the porch as a child when it was windy outside, and wrap herself up in a blanket, loving the experience of the cold wind hitting her face but being completely enveloped in the warmth that the blanket provided. She could identify with Ryan loving the idea of being exposed and protected at the same time. It was so vivid to me. As she was talking a vision formed in my mind and I could see my mother as a little girl, wrapped up in her blanket, the wind whispering around her face, imagining the excitement and joy she felt in such a simple thing. Something so simple and yet powerful enough to be with her today, and I wept. She is so afraid of life and of change and yet, in that moment I can only imagine that as a girl, she never dreamed she would end up that way. Locked in her home, afraid to drive, afraid to live and experience all the joys of life and the people around us.

I don’t know if I’m even conveying here how powerful that was for me. I don’t want Ryan to grow up and be afraid of life but I do see a tremendous amount of fear in him. I don’t want him to be in his home, looking out the window at his grandchild, remembering the liberation of feeling the rain on his face, wondering where life could have taken him. It was tremendously sad for me to see my mother this way and yet extraordinary at the same time. It has given me an incredible new perspective on who she is and why she does the things that annoy me so. It has also made me even sadder for her than I was before and believe me, I didn’t think that was possible.

I don’t have any pearls of wisdom with which to wrap this up. No conclusions to draw from this experience yet as it is just too new but I felt compelled to share it. It has brought up so many things in my mind and my heart and I don’t know how to process all of it yet. I’m sure there will be more in the days to come.

Posted by: whimsigal | November 16, 2008

I’m sick

Blargh. My voice has been gone for a week and my chest has been invaded by something really heavy. I’ll be back when things improve.

Posted by: whimsigal | November 13, 2008

For All My Friends

A friend of mine sent this link to me in an email and I think it’s brilliant. I wanted to share with all of you 52’s out there that I’m friends with. 🙂

52 to 48 with love

Posted by: whimsigal | November 12, 2008

Does It Ever End?

Bear with me people. The first part of this post is MIL related. So, you may or may not remember our relationship with my MIL is shaky at best. Some of it is our fault and some of it is hers. We’re in a place right now where, she never calls the house to talk to the boys or check on the boys and they have to be the ones to initiate contact with her. Sad, but ok. I don’t feel it’s my responsibility to force their grandmother to spend time with them. Before Halloween, Sean took the boys over there for a visit because they had been asking to see her. For obvious reasons to those of you who read here regularly, I was not going to be the one to take them over for a visit. Well, unbeknownst to either Sean or myself, during that visit, Iain told her that they would come trick-or-treating on Halloween and she got them each a card that was waiting there for the on Oct 31st. On Halloween, we don’t go anywhere once it’s time to trick-or-treat. My mother doesn’t work so I take the kids over there early in the afternoon to get their candy. As you may recall, I got some pics of all the kids over at my mom’s house this year. Frankly, it doesn’t look much different from any other visit we have with her considering my kids are in a costume 75% of the time anyway. So, I digress. After visiting with my mom, we go home, eat dinner, wait for Sean to get home, set up our Halloween decorations in the yard and then all three of them head out to beg our neighbors for candy. I stay home to supply candy to the rest of the costumed children in the neighborhood. They come home, eat a bunch of candy, freak out, watch a movie, then go to bed. All of this without Sean or I knowing that Iain told his other grandmother that they would come over to get candy from her, too.

A couple of days later, I sent out an email with a link to all the Halloween pics I took, and didn’t get a response from Sean’s mom about them. I think I know why that is now as I was confused about it at the time. Last night, she called Sean at work to find out what to do with the boys’ Halloween cards since we didn’t bring them over like she thought we were going to. Sean didn’t know what she was talking about and she said that Iain was the one who told her that to which Sean responded, “Well it would have been nice if he had told me that.” People. Since when does a grown person rely on a nine year old to make plans? Can he drive himself there? Of course not. Why didn’t she call one of us to confirm what Iain had said? Doesn’t that seem like the sensible thing to do? I have to remind him to brush his teeth for goodness sake. I have no doubt that her feelings were hurt when my email went out with links to pictures of the boys with my mom on Halloween and none with her. She probably felt slighted. I also have no doubt that at least one thought crossed her mind that somehow I was the reason that they didn’t show up. The fact of the matter is, there is no conspiracy to keep them apart. She is the only one constructing walls here. I have emailed her countless times and have yet to receive a response to any, save one. Aside from groveling for her affection and attention I don’t know what more can be done to get her involved in the boys’ lives.

All of this is very frustrating for me. the boys want to have a relationship with her. They talk about her all the time. It just makes me sad that we have to beg for her attention. They’re going to know my parents very well. I am close with my mother and talk to her daily. They spend the night there, my parents take them out and do fun things with them, all initiated by them. When the boys grow up, they’re going to wonder why they didn’t see Sean’s mom that much and I’m not going to have a good explanation for that. Ugh.

Here’s another hot topic. Homeschooling and Obama. So, I tried very, very hard to get information from the Obama campaign regarding his stance on homeschooling. Democrats support the NEA and public education very strongly and no where on his site does he devote any space to a particular opinion on homeschooling. My requests for information were answered by reams of paper being mailed to me outlining Obama’s plan to reform the public education system and make college affordable for everyone. I got that twice. Plus they sent it to me in an email in response to one I sent complaining about the aforementioned information. Ridiculous. Today, I get this email from everyone’s favorite organization the HSLDA:
“Since the election of Barack Obama as U.S. president, HSLDA has received more than a few calls from both members and nonmembers. Some are quite concerned about the future of homeschooling under an Obama presidency…Despite HSLDA’s efforts prior to the election to get an official statement from the Obama campaign regarding their position on homeschooling, we received no response…We do know that the Democratic Party has an official position of supporting public education. The National Education Association (NEA), which is the national teachers union, is a major supporter of the Democratic Party. We know that the NEA’s position is that every child should be either taught by a certified teacher or supervised by one. Additionally, their position is that the curriculum used by all homeschoolers should be approved by the state, and children should only be able to continue to be homeschooled based upon systematic evaluation by the state.”

Ok, so scare tactics aside, I know Obama has more pressing matters to attend to when he first takes office. Homeschooling is probably not even a blip on the radar at this time. But what’s going to happen when it does show up? I’m curious what you guys think is going to happen. Are we all going to have to get certified to satisfy the NEA. God, I hope not. I have no idea where his administration would go on this issue and that perhaps is more frightening than if I knew he had a stance either way. Not knowing is so much more intimidating. If I knew his feelings or direction, at least I could begin thinking of a way to combat it. I’m still hopeful that Obama will lead from the center and won’t make any changes as far as homeschooling is concerned. The government doesn’t own my children and I just want to be sure they’re aware of that.

Ok, whew! I’m done. That was a long post for me! Hope you’re all well!

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