Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Summer Day #1

I woke up this morning with puffy eyes from crying so much yesterday after taking Aiden to the airport.  I had a little pity party, I admit it.  I hate it that my kids have to go back and forth, or worse, move to their dad's, and that I miss out on parts of their lives.  It's really, really hard.  I could say other mean things, but I'm trying to refrain.  *bites tongue*

I want to really make the most of this summer, though, whether I have one kid at home, or all six.  And I want to keep Conor busy and happy too, so we started our summer routine this morning.  Which basically means, don't go downstairs and turn on the tv, because we've got STUFF to do!

He woke up and got dressed, and I walked him through his new list of daily chores.  (He has weekly chores too.)  Maybe a post on that later.

The big plan for today was to go to the park.  Lyndsay was taking the car to a swim party, but the park is only a mile away, and the weather was so beautiful, so we decided to walk.  Conor doesn't normally opt for walking over driving, but I told him no complaining or the deal was off.  Not a negative word out of him.

He played at the park for two and a half hours.  I was a little shocked, but it was so nice outside, and his best friend from kindergarten showed up unexpectedly.  Then later, he made a new friend in a kid named Gray, "like the color," he said when he told us his name.  They played for a good long time, and I finally had to say it's time to go.  And after all that, he walked the mile home happily and without complaint.  I told him how proud I was of him for his good attitude, and he said, "Why, thank you."

I let him watch a little tv and play some Wii while I got some things done and finished the book I'd almost finished at the park.  I fell asleep for a bit on the couch too, which was heavenly.  When I woke up we did some homeschool work.  Nothing big, some Phonics Pathways, he read some Frog and Toad to me, and he did some copy work ("Who Has Seen the Wind?").

Then we had another piano lesson.  He's picking it up well and begs for more.  I'll enjoy that while it lasts, since I'm well aware that it doesn't.

Dinnertime, bathtime, bedtime read-aloud.  Tonight we read D'Aulaire's George Washington.  We read Abraham Lincoln last week, twice.  He loved it.  I was going to take him to the library this week, but in going through all the bookshelves to clean out and make a donation, I realized how many hundreds of amazing books we already have thanks to years of homeschooling and should really make use of, so we're starting there.

Once little guy went to bed, I ran to the grocery store and bought a ton of raspberries and canning lids for tomorrow's project, raspberry jam.  Lyndsay and I are hanging out in the living room, reading and blogging.  I miss Aiden's face around here, but today was a good day.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Last Day of School

My sentimentality has cost me a lot of sleep over the years.  Even though I'm so excited for the school year to be over, last night I couldn't sleep well, thinking of how sad it is that these kids just keep growing up, and how there's always something ending and something new to adjust to.  Change is coming, and we're all kind of in denial about it.  (Especially Lyndsay.)

This morning I woke up Conor with a Last Day of Kindergarten song.  He's not nearly as emotional about the whole thing as I am.  Finally, after I had gone on and on about how sad it is that he'll never be in kindergarten again, and how special this year was, he said, "You don't have to be so sad, Mom.  I'm still a little kid."  That's true, but he's getting bigger every second, and I hate it.  My very last kindergartener is done with kindergarten.  And Aiden has finished his initiatory year in middle school.  (And he's leaving on a plane today right after school for 5 weeks in Arizona, which is killing me!)

I walked Conor to school, holding his little hand, which I'm privileged to do when I don't have school myself.  I walk him to the green gate, and then he goes into the kindergarten yard (no parents allowed in there.)  He always says, "Meet me by the blue benches!"  Which, of course, after all these months, I already know to do.  He stands near me and we chat.  Sometimes he tries some hula hoop or jump rope or some cool jumping moves to impress me.  And when the attendant rings the bell, he gives me a kiss through the fence.  So, today was our last kiss through the fence.  My jailbird Kindergartener.

These are the gifts that we gave all the teachers this year.  Quick and easy, and (hopefully) sure to please.  Panda Express gift cards.  They do a cute job with their presentation, so I keep going back.  I had to get 12 of these this year!  We made the little tags that say, "I'm so FORTUNATE to have had you for a teacher!"  But I am really thankful for the teachers who work with and love my children.  They all had a great year this year.  

So, now Summer begins!  And now I have a college freshman, an 11th grader (miss you, Dylan!), a 7th grader, and a 1st grader.  I wish it would all slow down.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Summer To-Do List

I really value summer break, especially now that I'm a student myself.  All semester long, I'm thinking of things I wish I could be doing with the kids, or getting done around the house, but knowing they will have to wait till summer.  This summer will be full, since it is our last with Lyndsay before she heads off to college.  Here are some of my summer goals:

1.  Read a lot.  I have a whole pile of books I've been saving for my summer reading.

2.  Make the jam for the year.

3.  Get the kids' schoolwork organized and in file boxes.

4.  Go to the temple once a month with the kids.

5.  Start teaching Conor piano lessons.

6.  Start reading the Book of Mormon with Conor.

7.  Summer school-ish program for Conor.

8.  Go to the Getty Center with Lyndsay and Aiden.

9.  Clean out closets and drawers and donate!

10. Make a memory video for Lyndsay

11. Go through bookshelves and donate to the library.

12. Lose 10 pounds.

13.  Go to the California Science Center.

14.  Go to the Norton Simon with Lyndsay and Conor.

15.  Hike Eaton Canyon with the kids.

16.  Get renter's insurance.

17.  Back up my photos and music.

18.  Get broken things fixed around the house.

19.  Make homemade ice cream.

20.  Get kids (and me!) to the dentist.

Well, that's a start, right?  I'm sure there are more goals.  But I'm not stressing about anything.  I just want to enjoy the time with my kiddos, and the time free from studying!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Haunt You Just Right

If the cover alone doesn't make you want to buy this book, maybe my hearty recommendation will sway you.

I have been so anxious to read Dispirited.  I bought my copy right away.  Luisa is one of my dearest and truest friends in all the world.  But it had to sit on the shelf, only because I have a self-imposed rule that I cannot read books other than textbooks (and scriptures, etc. on Sundays) during the semester.  Books are very much like cookies in my life: I cannot devour only one.  Nibbling on either does not exist for me.  On Monday, I took my final exam and sat for my final clinical evaluation, feeling really under the weather and tired.  When I got home around dinnertime, all I really wanted to do was cozy up in my jammies with a good book (that had nothing to do with nursing!), and so that's what I did.  I don't remember if I cooked dinner, or if I left the masses to fend for themselves.  I remember going straight to the shelf that held my pile of summer reading books, picking up Dispirited (which was right on top) and heading up to bed.

Luisa wastes no time pulling you in.  From Chapter 1, you know you've never read a story like this one, and you must go on.  So I did.  About two-thirds of the way through the book, I could not keep my eyes open due to the effects of the cold and allergy meds I had taken, so I turned off the light and fell into a coma-like sleep within seconds.  But the story didn't leave my mind, and I was dreaming of  the realm outside of this physical one, and leaving bodies, and dark forces at work in the world, and little ghost boys, when all of a sudden I felt a presence, maybe I heard a voice--I don't recall--but I opened my eyes and there stood Conor next to my bed.  Weird.  He never does that.  He was pretty much sleep-walking, so I tucked him back into bed, and with my second wind, I turned the light on and finished the book.  It's that good.

This is a book with something for everyone: fantasy, romance, suspense.  The writing is beautiful and the story compelling and engaging.  It's written for young adults, and though there are some mature themes, they are presented in a modest, yet sobering way.  Depending on your spiritual beliefs, there's a lot of food for thought woven throughout the story as well.  It will keep you turning pages and just a little on-guard.  And the ending?  Well, I didn't see it coming.  That's always a nice surprise.  My older kids want a turn at it ASAP.  It's a gripping read.  Creepy in all the right ways.

Luisa, Darling, you nailed it.  Hurry and write something else.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Conor's Culmination

Remember at the beginning of the school year, when I was just beginning the Nursing program and Conor was ushered off to Kindergarten, maybe a bit prematurely (age wise)?  That was awful.  I missed his first day of school because I had class, which made me feel like a horrible mother.  And then, every day when I would walk him to school, he would cry and not want me to leave.  It tore my heart out.  It went completely against my instincts, which were to snatch him up, pull him out of there, and bring him back home to the safety and nurture of Mom.   But, the situation being what it was, he had to keep going.  And after several months, he grew braver about our separations in the morning.  He always had a good time during the school day, and his teacher adored him.  He is (most of the time) well behaved and obedient at school, and seemed to enjoy the learning and even the homework (which I hated).

But today, well, today was a momentous day, because Conor finished Kindergarten.  I mean, he still has to go until next Tuesday (whatever), but today was the Culmination.  It was also Sean's graduation from 8th grade, so Adam attended that, and I went to cheer on my sweet baby.  My last Kindergartener.  Oh, man.

Can you see his pale face in the crowd there?

The principal read a poem as part of the ceremony, and it really choked me up.  I couldn't stop the tears.  Now I know from first-hand experience how quickly the years pass until these little ones are just gone, so I made a conscious effort to soak in this moment in time.  I tried to memorize all the feelings of watching my little guy take this first baby step in his educational life.

On the other hand, the audience was a sea of humongous helium balloons, floral arrangements, and oversized (cheap) stuffed animals.  "Congratulations, Graduate!" the balloons screamed in shades of mylar.  Seriously?  I mean, I'm proud of my kid too, but let's get real here.  All they did was finish Kindergarten.  My kid got a kiss, a sincere compliment, and then I took him home with me.  That's right, spend the rest of the day with me.  There's your gift.  (Actually, I just didn't feel like walking back to the school in a few hours, and I knew he wouldn't be missing much. I'm lazy and selfish like that.)

Here's Conor with his teacher, Mrs. Stevens.

And here he is with his other (real) teacher, Mom.  He and I are making all kinds of fun summer plans, now that I have him all to myself.  He is one cool kid.

And now, apparently, he's a First Grader.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Milestones for Lyndsay

This has been a busy month, for sure.  Senior year in high school is intense, for the student and for the parents.  And expensive, let me tell ya.  But she did it.  I did it too, if I do say so myself.  And I haven't even completely fallen apart yet.  Yet.

I became intensely interested and involved in Lyndsay's (and then my subsequent children's) education when she was barely two years old.  The internet was new at that time, but I scoured web pages and learned all I could learn about what she should learn, when, and how she should learn it.  I interviewed Montessori schools, played around with Joy School, and when she was three, I knew I wanted to homeschool her.  I remember very clearly planning out her curriculum, placing my order, and receiving that first shipment of homeschool materials.  I was in heaven with my little girl.  And then my little boy. And pretty soon with another little boy in a sling.  I remember the first "real" year she stayed home.  That first year that everyone else her age left home and went to school, and I felt brave for following my instinct.  We watched the bus drive by out the dining room window.  And then we sat back down at the table and got to work.

I still have most of her homeschool work, three-hole punched and categorized by subject and grade in binders.  She doesn't remember most of it, the hundreds of books we read, the poems she memorized, the science projects.  But somehow, it all seeped in there and began to shape her mind and her study habits.  When it was time, when the Spirit whispered to me that change was coming, we both took the next step in faith, and off she went to high school.  Public high school.

Not every influence was good.  Many, many were not, and that made me heavy-hearted.  I watched a lot of her innocence get chipped away.  I already knew what Lyndsay was made of, though, and in those four years she found out for herself that she is strong and capable, and a light that others recognize as shining brightly.  She made a difference.  And now, she is ready for the next step on her journey.  In August, just a few short months away, she will leave the nest and begin her college education at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, on scholarship.  We always knew this was part of the plan.  From the time she was three I was mapping out in my mind and hers the importance of gaining as much education as possible.  "At least a Master's degree," I always told her.  "You need to be educated.  You want to be prepared.  And, you want to be interesting.  It's much more enjoyable to talk to educated people, and you'll be a better mother."

On Sunday, we attended her Seminary Graduation.  Four years completed, and four years earning the Excellence in Seminary Award, which means that each year she had 100% attendance, 100% daily reading of the scriptures, 100% scripture mastery (memorizing the 25 scripture mastery scriptures), and completely reading each of the books of scripture being studied that year.  I'm really proud of her and her commitment to early morning Seminary.  I know it made a difference in her life.

She's got a lot to do in the next several weeks, working and putting money away, registering for classes, and preparing to leave home.  She's excited, but not so much, if you know what I mean.  As in, DENIAL.  She'll get there, and I'm thankful she's not a teenager who's dying to "get out of here."  We'll get to spend some time together, and then I'll drive her up to school.  I'm sure at that point, I'll be falling apart.

It's going to be a bittersweet summer.