Wednesday, August 1, 2012

all-around update

I suppose it's about time for an all-around update.

So let's get started.
Payton and James returning from a kayak ride.

Payton's favorite things these days are: sleeping in (she'd sleep until 9:30 if I'd let her); going to God's Girls (our little mother-daughter Bible study group that has morphed into a sweet small group of moms and daughters); sneaking away to her room for quiet and reprieve from the chaos (can't say I blame her sometimes); of course, reading; whittling (isn't that from like 1923?); sleepovers with her friends; going to SweetFrog; and making earrings and jewelry.

She amazes me.  How fast she's growing up, how tall she's getting, her knee-jerk-fly-off-the-handle reactions of annoyance and irritation at her siblings, her sweet spot for James, her newly found voice (that brought me to tears when I asked her to sing an Adele song to me...anyone who knows me knows she didn't get a singing voice from me!), and her smarts (which she didn't get from me either!).  It's fun watching her grow, but it breaks my heart at the same time.

She is the ever-hungry learner.  About a month ago she spent a week in her spelling, grammar and vocabulary workbooks because she just 'felt like doing some school.'  She gets antsy.  And one of the things I love most about her is she comes up with things to do.  Not the things that most kids would do -- she creates something out of nothing, she reads, she plays the piano, she does schoolwork in the middle of the summer.  She's just neat like that.  Her love for James amazes me.  I feel like I can *see* how his entering our family has impacted her, as a person, for life.  Like a tipping point.  The two of them just have this special bond.

Payton's test scores came back great.  She hit it out of the park.  I was relieved to know that she at least learned something last school year, but apparently she learned plenty.  School is just a strong suit for her which makes having her home with me very enjoyable.

It's always a treat to sit in the captain's chair and drive Papa's boat (even if he does wear Blue Blockers).  :)

Avery's favorite things these days are: sleeping in (she can take someone down!), flipping and flopping all over the house, playing with her brothers, being a big sister to James, going to SweetFrog and going to the lake.

She's spending three afternoons a week at the gym.  Three hours a day.  It's a lot.  But she loves it.  And we love that she's getting such great exercise.  She's hands down the most fit person in this house.  Ha!  It's amazing the things even young kids can do with their bodies!

She remains sweet and lovely, but the sassy moments are starting.  Fortunately, they're few and far between and they're manageable, but she's definitely testing the waters.  She tries to roll her eyes or huff as she's walking away...she does get called back into the room, but she tries nonetheless.  I so get it.  But it means that, yet again, she too is getting older.  

Avery's test scores came back harder to interpret because I knew she'd never taken a standardized test and wasn't sure how that impacted her scores.  They were very average -- below on some things and above on others.  I found out after I'd had the girls tested, that the Iowa Standardized Test is a pretty long test (3 to 4 hours) that some other homeschool moms I talked to only started administering to their kids around middle school or high school.  After hearing that, I knew it might not be a good fit for Avery.  The Wide Range Achievement Test (WRAT) was recommended during the elementary years, so I thought I better at least have Avery tested with it.  We did that a week or two ago.  I'm so glad I did!  Boy, she wasn't though!  There were tears and all kinds of reluctance.  She would hardly shake the woman's hand when we walked in her house!  However, she was done in just 20 minutes and her scores were right on the mark for where she's at grade-wise.  She did awesome!  And, when I asked her which test she'd like to take next year, you can probably guess which one she chose!  And, Payton?  She liked the Iowa and wants to take that next year.  Hilarious.  So crazy how different kids are!

Give a boy a pair of binoculars and you have yourself one happy boy!

Jackson's favorite things these days are...watching TV.  That's it.  This child could watch TV from sun up to sun down if we'd let him.  He asks first thing in the morning and all-day long.  All. day. long.  Sure, he'll play outside when it's not too stinkin' hot, but I have to make him!  He enjoys playing made-up games with Avery and Brooks, getting James up in the mornings, (and of course) going to Sweet Frog.  What kid in our area doesn't love Sweet Frog?  It's where most families find themselves on hot summer evenings!

Brooks' turn!

Brooks' favorite things these days are a lot of the same.  He and Jackson and Avery are three peas in a pod (when Avery's not at the gym).  They can play together all day long.  It's a blessing.  

One of my most favorite things about Brooks is how he slips outside off-and-on all day long.  By himself.  He just has to go outside and play sometimes.  And it's always in spurts.  It could be 100 degrees and I'll find him wandering around in the backyard (with our lab, Lucy, following him around).  He takes a plane or toy of some sort and plays alone.  I can hear him talking under his breath while he plays.  It's so sweet.  A month or two ago, he was catching moles -- four or five in one week!  And killing them by accident.  Such a boy.  He felt awful about it, but he caught three in one day and they all promptly died (in the plastic pail or by holding them too tight).  He loves critters.

Brooks has had a hard time of late.  He likes to push James' buttons (which in turn pushes my buttons).  And James pushes Brooks' buttons right back!  The screaming that comes from that child (James) is ear piercing!  The boy can scream loud in protest.  I don't blame him, but sometimes he screams for no reason at all.  Brooks could be giving him a hug or a kiss, for goodness sake.  And sometimes it's Jackson who's messing with James.  Regardless of the cause, James is screaming off and on all day long!  It does not make for a happy mama.    

It's been hard, y'all.  It's not that there's a complete lack of joy -- it just feels like the joy's overcome sometimes because I'm overcome.  I've felt very thin.  That's the only way I know how to explain it.  

Thin on grace.

Thin on patience.

Thin on energy.

Thin on perspective.

Thin on appreciation.

Thin on gratitude.

That's a recipe for disaster in my mind!  I've had to really draw near to the Lord and get with Him on some of these things.  

Hind sight's always 20/20, but I couldn't see it then.  Several weeks ago, I entered into a place of complete dread for this school year.  I just kept thinking, 'How am I going to do this?'  One day, I'd be overwhelmed just thinking about it.  Two days later, I'd get myself all mustered up attack it!  But the reality of going from having two children fully at home last year to five at home this year was a lot on my wimpy psyche.  Not to mention there's a new toddler in the mix!  

I was distraught.  

I was crying off and on.

When I left town for a couple of nights with the kids, I cried in JD's arms because I was yearning for the days we'd have an empty nest!  I just wanted to curl up with him on the couch with a movie.  


My mindset for years has been that I wanted the kids home more to slow their childhoods down some.  

Yeh, well.

When we made the decision to homeschool, we said we would take it one child at a time; one year at a time.  We've reminded ourselves of that commitment and after much thought and prayer, JD and I made the decision last week to send Brooks and Jackson to kindergarten.

Ahhhh...I cannot tell you the relief. 

It is such a win-win for all!  

To me, kindergarten is a precious time.  Yes, I wanted our boys home with our girls, but it just started not to feel right.  It started to feel like they would thrive in school more than at home.  They will be stimulated and energized about school!  I just can't say with certainty that I'm able to do that right now. 

They're excited to ride the bus!  :)

They're excited to ride to school with their daddy each morning like they watched the girls do for years.

It's good.

It's so good.  

I know I haven't updated on James, but that's going to have to wait until the next post.  I don't want you to be here all night!  He's doing really well, but there's much to report around his therapies and medical care.  

I'll leave you with this little teaser until next time... 

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