Wednesday, February 11, 2015

let's pretend

Let's pretend you could move anywhere. You didn't have jobs holding you back and had the freedom to go wherever and put down roots anywhere your heart desired.  How would you choose?  What factors would you weigh?

I feel at a crossroads.  A really weird one. It's not bad.  I can't complain at all.  I just.... Feel in limbo.  

We want to move.  It likely won't be until later this year or even next year.  Or maybe the year after that.  We don't have a timeline.  Ryan is home now so we don't have his job weighing us down. We are in this amazing, yet peculiar, situation where we can literally go wherever the hell in this world we want to go.  It's kind of crazy and overwhelming. (No oilers, we won't be heading to Utah)

I would love to buy an old farm and renovate but I also would love to build our dream home.   However.... WHERE do we do this?   I can't imagine like, picking a town and buying land and building having never lived there before.  However the thought of moving to a new town/state and renting and then building sounds like a lot of work hahaha!  Moving sucks.  But I don't want to lock ourselves in somewhere and end up not loving the area (however we do live in Jackson soooo unless it was a total po-dunk town it will likely have more to offer than where we are at.  

Do I start with schools?   Though I constantly consider homeschooling.  Do I start with communities and what they have to offer?  Or do I look for real estate and hope that where we find something we love that the area falls into place too?  

After last winter I was ready to get out of Michigan but this winter hasn't been bad at all.  Totally tolerable.   I would miss the snow and the kids being able to do winter things but can we find somewhere that winter doesn't linger forever? (Not likely).  I would love to move south--- we always love love love North Carolina but will I die in the summer heat?  Maybe we should look more towards Michigan's west coast to be closer to the "michigan ocean" haha but then that'll bring harsher winters.   

Ugh.  The decisions.  Luckily it's not something we have to do right now.  Financially, I want to have a huge hunk of a down payment for something awesome. And the next few months our financial advisor has us socking away a disgusting amount of money into an IRA to try to avoid paying so much to lovely Uncle Sam (joys of hitting the high tax brackets.  Gag.) so for now we have no plans to go anywhere but I know once #4 arrives our house is going to begin to feel more cramped than it already does.  

So I just wonder, aloud, where would you go if you could pack up and go wherever?   What would weigh into your decisions? 


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

wanderlust


  
I've been bitten by the travel bug.  I've always WANTED to see the world, but never knew how I'd make it possible.  The COST!  The TIME!   In so many ways I am reminded how much Young Living has brought to my life and changed so much for us.  In the past year I've seen places I never thought I'd see, and in the coming year I have a full travel-log too.  And, as a family we're getting to travel together.  I want my kids to love to travel.  I want to take them to see the world.  Yes, I know it will be EXHAUSTING with 4 kids in tow but if not now, then when?  I want them to experience things they didn't know existed beyond their little bubble of the world.  I can't wait to experience these things TOGETHER.


I was reflecting today on all the travels 2014 and 2015 have had or have in store.  

In 2014 I visited:
  • Birmingham, AL
  • Topsail Island, NC (our family beach trip)
  • Spokane, Washington 
  • St. Maries, Idaho 
  • France: Nice, Eze, Carcassone, Sisteron, Paris
  • Chicago
  • Edisto Island, SC
2015 Travel in the books:

  • Anaheim, CA (Disneyland and to venture out to see the west coast)
  • Nashville, TN
  • Topsail Island, NC
  • Italy with friends, and Croatia work retreat (Not sure if I'll make this trip since I'll be 30/32 weeks preggo but.... I'm going to try!)
  • Mediterranean Cruise (I won a spot on the Global Leadership Cruise in June.... on my due date. I should be browsing Italy, Croatia, Turkey, and Greece. Buuuuttt..... not this year.)
  • Dallas,Texas
  • Ecuador
  • I want to take one more family trip somewhere we haven't been before... in the fall or winter

    Its crazy to me that this is something we can do.  That is feasible for our family to do.  I keep thinking I need to figure out a way to homeschool so we CAN travel when we want and not worry about pulling the kids from school.  I'm not sure that's the plan but its an option.   I have a feeling the next few years are going to be full of adventure.  



Saturday, January 10, 2015

diy Disney trading pin mini zip up book

Last year when we went to Disney World, I made the kids lanyards and ordered them some trading pins off eBay.   We all had fun trading pins with the cast members, but I didn't realize how much the boys remembered (or cared) about it until we pulled out our pins the other day in anticipation of our January trip this year.  They remembered pins they had, and traded, and had favorites and ones they wanted to collect more of.  (Who am I kidding... Ryan and I are kind of excited about finding new pins this trip too!). 

The lanyards were not a favorite of the boys.  Maybe they'll like to pick a favorite or two and wear on their lanyard, but for the most part, the lanyards rode in a pocket in the stroller.  

When preparing for our first big family trip to Disney in Dec 2013, I totally cracked up when I heard people had huge binders of pins.  And then after the lanyards weren't a favorite, I thought.... Hmmmm it would be nice to have a zip up mini book. So I decided to make one.  

I searched Pinterest and found a few ideas and kind of modified my own book.  It really was quite easy!  

I bought 4 sheets of the stiff felt at JoAnn (the sheets were legal paper sized).  They were $1.19 each I think?  2 sheets per kiddo. 


I also bought two Case Logic zip up cd cases that hold 32 cd's from Best Buy.  They were $9.99 each. I carefully took scissors and snipped the threads that attached the cd holder to the outside casing. 


I traced the cd case insert onto the stiff felt and cut it out.  I ended up using 4 of these templates per book.  


I sewed together the 4 sheets of felt.  I put two lines of stitching down the middle. 

I used a super duty craft glue (E-6000) to glue the sewed felt to the cd case.  I clamped them down with clampers (pic not shown, and also clampers is not the actual name of them I'm sure). I let the clamps and glue sit overnight.  

And here we go..... Ready for pins!  The first two pages I wrote "TRADE" on the top so the boys could keep the pins on those pages that they are willing to trade.  The rest of the pages I helped them organize by theme/character/set etc.  


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Names names names...

Why is it so hard to name a baby??   The boys seemed so easy.  Porter we pretty much knew we'd name him Porter.   We took awhile to officially settle on the name only because we were afraid it was too "different".   Hudson was a runner up for Porter, so when we were having Hudson we pretty much knew we'd go with Hudson, but again... there was about a month of debating other names. But... Hudson always was the go-to.  

Amelia... she wasn't named until she was born.  Although... I guess I kind of knew that's what we'd settle on only because it was the only name we could agree on.  I really was pushing for Norah but Ryan said no.  So, when Amelia was born he looked at me and said "So... is it Amelia?" And I could tell he really wanted it to be Amelia so that's what she was.

And this baby... well... I have no clue.  I still like Norah but maybe not AS much as I did when Amelia was born.  And Ryan isn't a huge fan.  I have a list of names I've kind of narrowed my ideas down to, but... we'll see.  

Here's the things I keep thinking of.

Porter Evan  (2 syllable, 2 syllable)
Hudson Riley  (2 syllable, 2 syllable)
Amelia Jane  (4 syllable, 1 syllable)

... all have 6 letter first names.  I really liked Norah Lucille for Amelia because it'd fulfill the 2 syllable, 2 syllable (though not 6 letters!)... but alas, we went with Amelia.  So.  I think... we could go with a 4 syllable girl name, or a 6 letter girl name.  I really don't want to do a P or an H because sometimes when I write lists/notes/texts etc I use "P" or "H" or "AJ" for the kids.  So... if we had another P or H it would mess that up.  I also don't really want a name that can be shortened naturally to a nickname (like.. Madison/Maddy, Kimberly/Kim, Abigail/Abby etc).  I'm weird.  I know.   HAHA!

So... here is a list of names.   Some are names that are seriously on "my" list.  Some are names that I'm going to throw out there to just add in :)  I'm not sure if we'll tell her name until after she's born so... we'll see.

Norah
Ellery
Eloise
Hazel
Charlotte
Aria
Violet
Mallory
Elodie
Melody
Alice
Cora
Kathleen
Eden



18 weeks | It's a.....

We were finally able to get a good peek at this little one.  I knew I wanted to do something fun to tell the kids if they were going to have a new brother or sister... so I decided to do a cake and put colored frosting in the middle.

We told the kids they'd find out if the baby was a boy or girl when we cut into the cake.  Porter said "So, wait... are there going to be baby CLOTHES in the cake... or is it frosting?"  HAHA!  

The video of this is really hilarious, so if you're a Facebook friend, check it out.  Cracks me up.

Porter said he wanted a boy.  Amelia says brother and Hudson wants a girl.  Hudson also said we need a girl so there are 2 boys and 2 girls... but then we need another boy then another girl. HA!  I asked where all these babies were going to sleep and he said "Eh, in the basement."

Porter pulled the server out of the cake and it was..... PINK!   We're having another GIRL!  









Porter scrunches his nose and says "Aughhh!  A stupid girl!"  Amelia just stares at the cake like... yum yum yum.... and Hudson is all grins... HUGE grin.   I say "It's a girl!" And Hudson raises his arms and screams "YAY!"  Amelia copies him.  Porter does a face plant into the table.

Poor bud was embarrassed afterward... he cried into the table for a bit and then felt embarrassed for how he acted.  :(   It is kind of funny to me that he's so bummed because he just adores Amelia.   However, I think he's worried about having another SIBLING... he kept saying "I don't want to have 3 siblings!"  Hopefully he'll have a change of heart once she arrives.  I think he'll be wrapped around her finger like he has been with Amelia (though... she's gotten into that stinker age where she's getting into the boys' things and being a pest in general).

For the past week or so (maybe a little longer) I've been feeling little flutters from the baby.  I forget how sweet that is!  I'll enjoy the next couple months before it becomes full on jabs and stretches and rib and crotch kicks HAHA!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas 2014


  • We spent Christmas Eve with Ryan's dad, sister and her family.
  • The kids are all getting so big! Lia got a Canon SureShot camera and was ecstatic.  Shae and Brenna got Lego Friends- the mall and cruise ship and were all googly eyed over them.   The boys got the Skylanders Swap Force for the Xbox and Amelia got lots of toys.   




  • The kids (except Amelia) are at an age where we can actually play games without them needing us every second.  The adults were able to play Ticket to Ride after dinner while the kids played in the basement.
  • We went to the 8pm Christmas Eve service at Westwinds.  As always, they outdid themselves with the decor and theme.  The theme was Christmas in the 40's and they had a vintage looking Santa.  There were work benches set up in the lobby... 1 for kids to write a letter to Santa, and 3 for families to make pinecone ornaments to remember this Christmas Eve at Westwinds.  They were painted green, and there was glue and Epsom Salt to sprinkle on them, put them in a paper gift bag and take home.  The service was amazing... all 40's themed Christmas songs and as always, worship was spot on.  We are so blessed to have found such an awesome church to call home.
  • The kids were beyond tired by the time we got home.  We forgot to put out reindeer food. Oops!  They were out like a light (well, Amelia was a bit fussy but after Ryan sang to her she zonked out.)
  • Porter woke us up at 7:30am and drug us downstairs.  He and Hudson were giddy as can be. I had to wake Amelia up, so she was so confused at opening her stocking and seeing gifts.  Santa brought android tablets for each of the kids (in their favorite colors: red, green and purple), sleds for the boys, a stroller for Amelia and lots of little goodies... their annual Nutcrackers as usual (a hunter for P, mouse for H and ballerina for A), kinetic sand and more.  They were so surprised over the "iPads".  I'm pretty sure that was their favorite gift.
  • Hudson was the most excited this year... he's really into random, quirky things so he's super easy to please and surprise.  He got this Animal Babies Monkey that giggles, burps and farts and he LOVES it.  He also got a stuffed macaw parrot, Waddles the penguin, dry erase markers, Spirograph, Mixels, Shrinky Dinks, Pokemon cards and Legos.   





  • Amelia got a Bitty Baby, Frozen dress up clothes, some tutus, a doll high chair, a vintage Fisher Price camera, and a Llama Llama book.
  •    


  • Porter got Minecraft Legos, books (Harry Potter, Wonder, and Magic Treehouse), Skylanders characters, Pokemon cards. (He was the hardest to buy for... his wish list literally ALWAYS consists of: iPhone, iPod touch, dirt bike, bb gun and quad.  Sorry buddy... not happening).


  • They got combined gifts of Osmo iPad games (I.LOVE.THESE) and Disney Infinity 2.0.  Whoop Whoop!  Each of the kids got a Little Live Pets bird... yeah.  Ryan hates them HAHA!
  • We thought we'd use Christmas morning to surprise them with our DisneyLand trip... big mistake. Turns out they're like "okay, cool"  Uhm. HELLOOOO we're flying to CALIFORINA to see RADIATOR SPRINGS!  Yeah.   Next time we'll just wait and tell them when we're on the plane HAHA!  #surprisefail
  • My sister and her girls came over for dinner and a movie, and my dad stopped by for a bit.  We all just hung out in jammies and relaxed all day.  


  • Sunday, December 14, 2014

    Random updates and thoughts



    • We have been addicted to watching Yukon Men lately.  Ever watch it?  My jaw just drops at every episode.  I can't imagine 24/7 trying to survive. GAH!   I'm actually watching my first episode of Risking It All and have mixed feelings.  Three families.... 1 moving because of health.  (All I can think is... HOW CAN I SEND HER SOME OILS?), 1 moving to save their marriage and get away from technology, 1 moving because the husband lost his job and they're just... moving off the grid because he was so disconnected from their family working 7a-9p. This show just solidifies my goals of having so much more freedom with our time and life.  Ryan is leaving his job soon to work from home with me and I can't wait.  I love the idea of having a free schedule... work when we need to, have fun when we want to.  LIVE life.   The daily grind will be OUR choice. 
    • Today we had a huge craft/family fun day.   I spent a couple hours this morning making Christmas Crafts for people I want to show appreciation to this Christmas.  Our mail-lady, UPS man, the sweet adults who help kids out of the truck at Hudson's school drop off, the people who run the barn where I board Lacey.... I have a list of 10 people and got these adorable little snowmen jars made and am going to write a note to each of them.

      Hudson and Amelia helped me make Christmas Crockpot Crack.  YUMMY.  This stuff is delish, so easy to make and makes a TON!  (think: lots to share with neighbors!

      One of our Christmas gifts to someone involves the kids painting some pictures.  While Amelia napped, the boys and I worked on their paintings.  They did a GREAT job!  I'm so excited about this gift!


    • This evening we went to the Christmas Lights in Jackson.  The kids wore their pj's and brought their blankets.  After we got home we had hot chocolate and watched Polar Express.  Perfect ending to a great day!
    • Speaking of Polar Express, there were some things in the movie that I've never understood the meaning of (like... why the little boy goes into the other train car not the one with all the other kids).   I googled up some analysis on the movie and found this one.  WOAH.  Never really thought of it that way but..... pretty neat.
    • Porter is starting basketball on a 2nd/3rd/4th grade team. I'm excited about this sport because the practices are only 2 days a week and 1.5 hours HAHA!  He'll play in 5 weekend tournaments on Saturdays.   That's kind of a downside but... hopefully it'll be better than wrestling as far as crowds.   (SO glad he decided NOT to do wrestling again this year!)
    • Baby Barczak #4 now has a carseat and stroller.  We literally got rid of EVERYTHING except the crib and I think a boppy seat and the changing pad for the dresser.  Yeah.   Luckily, though, by the 4th kid you realize how much of that crap you DON'T need!   I think we just need to get bottles and a swing and we should be good to go.  I think we might have a bouncy seat in the apartment?   And clothes.  Yeah.  We have ZERO baby clothes from either Amelia or the boys.  I'm in love with the stroller we got... its the City Select by City Jogger.  Elephant Ears was having a special where they gave you the 2nd seat free, so it'll be perfect to swap from a single to double stroller (on basically a single stroller frame) for Amelia if need be.   We're taking it to California next month when we go to DisneyLand.... I'm thinking that the extra seat might be good for Hudson to sit in if he feels like it. And if we decide we don't need it, we'll just take the 2nd seat off in the hotel room.
      (yes.... I got an eggplant colored stroller! HAHA!  I wanted black... and was all set.  Then they called to get it from their stock and didn't have it.  So then I picked this deep teal.  Didn't have that either.  It was either red, tan or silver.  Soooo I went with eggplant.  If Baby #4 is a boy hopefully he doesn't mind purple. )






    • The boys are finishing up a semester of a painting class at JSOA and Amelia is finishing a fall creative movement class.  All 3 really enjoy it!  The boys have opted to try a Minecraft Art class starting in January, and I'm re-enrolling Amelia in creative movement again.  I really want to find a gymnastics class for her that isn't during naptime or evenings (ie... one that is in the weekday mornings), but might just have to wait until fall.
    • I finally broke down and got some help around here.  It seems so frivolous.  I'm technically HOME during the week, so I feel like I should be able to handle it all.  But to be honest, working from home with a toddler isn't as easy as I'd assumed. Or tried to make it.  So, I found an awesome person to help with weekly house cleaning (Wednesdays are my favorite day... Annie comes!! My house is soooo clean for about an hour after she leaves and then my kids take over!) and then I found a fantastic babysitter/nanny/whateveryamacallit for Amelia. Suzanne is sooooo good with Amelia and Amelia loves her!  I feel so so thankful to have found these two ladies!  

    Monday, December 8, 2014

    my life is poop

    Some mornings you just can't escape the reality that your life really is.... all about poop. 

    It started off with a dream.  Yes.  I dreamt about poop.   Pregnancy does weird things to you.   I dreamt there was a turd in the toilet that I could not flush. (Someone... quick... analyze this dream!).  I tried and tried to flush it but.... there wasn't enough water pressure.  So, I looked in the tank of the toilet and realized the chain wasn't short enough and the stopper kept slowing down the flow.  I stuck my hand in the tank, pulled the chain up a few little "balls" (like those military dog tag chains that are ball necklaces) and then flushed and in my dream I saw a close up of the turd flushing down the toilet. SUCCESS!

    I woke up (for the 5th time that morning... I can't get a decents night sleep anymore) to Ryan telling me Amelia had pooped in her pajamas and it was down her leg and on her floor... and she was trying her hardest to clean it up with baby wipes.  I got up and... cleaned up poop.

    I put her in the bath because, really, that was the only solution to this mess.  Hudson wakes up and comes into the bathroom to..... poop.   He talks about his poop and asks if he's stinking up the bathroom. Yup.  Poop.

    I make my way downstairs and find Ruby sniffing something on the living room floor.   She pooped in the early morning on the living room carpet.  I clean up poop.

    I go back upstairs to brush my teeth and find the toilet filled with poop.  Hudson hasn't flushed. WHY CAN'T BOYS JUST FLUSH THE TOILET WHEN THEY ARE DONE?   I threaten to take a picture of it and tape it to his bedroom wall every time he leaves poop in the toilet because IF I HAVE TO SEE IT SO SHOULD HE.

    And finally... I find myself cleaning the rabbit litter this morning.  More.  Stinkin.  Poop.  

    What has my life become.   

    Poop.  

    Friday, December 5, 2014

    13 weeks

    I had my 13 week appointment on Wednesday.  Heartbeat was in the 160's and everything else was normal.  I went in to see LeeAnn Thursday night to take a peek at the baby.  He/She was being super wiggly and we weren't able to get a very good picture of the baby.  He/She was in a really awkward position and kind of upside down.   Have you heard of "the Angle of the Dangle"?   It's pretty fascinating!   We tried it with Amelia and I *think* we were accurate... but heck if I remember (I'd have to pull out her ultrasound pics).   We attempted to peek at this one but he/she wasn't giving us a super great side view.  I'm so glad I got to see this little one wiggling and moving all around.   Makes it feel more real (as if feeling like a huge 80 year old whale didn't feel real enough....).

    I started an ExpectNet game to see what everyone thinks the baby will be, when it'll be born and how much he or she will weigh. I loved doing these games with the other kiddos pregnancies!

    Cravings:  Nothing major recently... nothing that I "HAVE" to have.  

    Symptoms/Feelings:   My hip issues are already starting.   I have begun to see the chiropractor (Which Amelia calls the "firecracker") at least once a week.  I do need to go again for the 2nd time this week.  Boobs are still hurting and huge.  I haven't been sleeping well either... quite a few nights in a row I have been waking up a couple times a night.  Makes for some unproductive and exhausting days.  

    Changes:  Between my huge boobs and huge belly, my regular shirts end up too short on me.  I finally went shopping and got some maternity shirts and have ordered a few pair of pants off eBay.  

    Baby right now, at 13 weeks, is the size of a peach

    Wednesday, December 3, 2014

    9 free favorite printable holiday tags


    I love searching Pinterest for great printables.... especially when it comes time for Christmas and making gift tags!  I decided to post links to my favorites that I found on Pinterest.  I decided to print #3 from Shanty2Chic on cardstock.  Now if I can just get my printer to work.... I swear it was just working yesterday.  Today... no dice.  Doesn't want to load the paper.  GRRR.   Electronics.   


    Free Printable Christmas Movie Quote Tags @ The Happy Tulip


    Colorful Gift Tags @ ColorMeMeg



    Black and White Tags @ Shanty2Chic


    Adorable Stockings @ Fresh Picked Whimsy


    12 Different Calligraphy Tags by Lindsay Bee  Download HERE




    Hand Drawn Printable Gift Tags @HeyLook



    Hand Illustrated Holiday Tags by Emily McDowell


    Watercolor Printable Tags @Oana Befort


    Vintage Printable Tags @Oana Befort

    Thursday, November 27, 2014

    Gratitude

    November.   Thanksgiving.   The month of counting your blessings.    

    In a way, this seems so cliche.  So.... forced.  Why must we wait until November to be thankful for what we have?   I know it isn't intentional but this month brings out everyone's awareness of all they've been blessed with.   Be it a roof over their heads, a healthy family, a heavy burden resolved, final peace in their life, family finally near them, a new job, the ability to provide for their family, their technology, good food, their favorite shoes... whatever.... everyone seems to awaken to the awareness of their blessings.  

    I can't count my blessings.  I've been given so many.   I've had seasons of severe drought.  I've had seasons of plentitude.  I've had seasons of contentment.   In all those seasons, I've always had exactly what I needed and have been thankful for it all, no matter how much suckage was felt during that time.  

    After coming from a season of severe drought, yet realizing now we had just enough, to a season of abundance (Lemon Dropper people let's all gag at this word), I realize in both there are things gained and things lost.  Things given and things taken.  Things needed and things unnecessary.  I'm so thankful for it all.  I'm thankful for the highs and lows.   Live always seems to come around in a circle... around and around.  I know drought in some way or shape or form will come again and I'll welcome it with thankfulness.  

    This year it is hard to express my gratitude and thankfulness.  I have so much to be thankful for.  Spending my days with Amelia.  Being available for the boys at anytime.  A new little life growing inside me that I can't wait to meet.  Friends I never asked for or dreamt of.  Family that loves me through thick and thin (AHAH literally!).  Our health and that we aren't facing anything life threatening.  My horse that has come full circle... my childhood dream now available to MY children. A home we love.  Neighbors we love. A church that I love to worship in.  A God that we can freely worship.  Internet!  A job I love and enjoy doing every day- the good parts and the sucky parts and the happy parts and the annoying parts.  The financial ability to give freely to others.  The ability to travel as we wish.  Finances to pay off student loans in huge chunks every month, and that the light at the end of the tunnel is so much closer than 20-30 years I've always accustomed myself to.   

    I hope you are all with loved ones today, or at least someone you're loved by.  I hope you can see all your blessings, no matter how big or small, and for those be thankful.   Happy Thanksgiving to you all.  May you be blessed beyond measure. 


    Sunday, November 23, 2014

    12 weeks

    Cravings:  
    Bread, cheese, cereal and milk.   Pizza sauce/spaghetti sauce give me heartburn and acid reflux.  I still eat it though, just not a ton.  I've also craved Arby's roast beef sandwiches and Wendy's spicy chicken sandwiches.  

    Symptoms/Feelings:  
    Heartburn. UGH.  Peppermint oil has been my lifesaver here.  A drop under the tongue and wash it down with water helps super quick.   My boobs.. SORE and huge. Gross.  I remember why I hate pregnancy.   My sense of smell has been like super-sized.  CRAZY.  I haven't been as tired or nauseous lately which is a plus!

    Changes:  I feel huge.  Still looking more fat than pregnant.  Gross.  


    Baby right now, at 12 weeks, is the size of a plum


    brain dump

    It's 3am and I found myself wide awake and my brain churning.  Thoughts running rampant, trying to sort out the feelings I have about Porter and school.   My mind is racing with what should I do, am I doing the right thing, am I overreacting, am I being ridiculous.   I need to write it out.  I need to list it all.

    Right now, for various reasons, I'm considering homeschooling or sending my kids to private schools.  This is something I never... ever.... ever... thought I'd consider.   I'm a teacher by degree.  I've worked in public schools and I am far beyond a helicopter parent who wants to shelter my kids from any little harm they could get in this world.   However, I feel like things have compiled to make me consider other options.

    My biggest concern is Porter.   Porter.... at school he's the friendliest, kindest, most loyal friend to others that I know.  He goes out of his way to shovel the neighbors driveways and sidewalks when it snows.  When the neighbors dog gets loose, he runs outside to get him and take him home.  He's helpful.  Kind.  Goodhearted.  Social.  In kindergarten, I remember going into school with him one day and he said hi to every adult that worked there that he passed.  Teachers from different grades, the gym teacher, aides.  He was Mr. Social.   He was- and is- friends to everyone.   He gives up his snack if someone in his class doesn't have one.  He goes out of his way to do nice things for them.  He risks his mothers wrath and stays with his friend on the playground after school because his mom is late and he doesn't want him to be alone.  However, his choices in friends kind of....sucks.  I don't know how to put this nicely.   He's a great student-- academically, socially, and behaviorally.  He doesn't get in trouble.  He follows rules.   But the kids he gravitates towards... do not.   This is isn't something new... I've had concerns since Kindergarten.   And, as he's gotten older and I've become more involved at the school, there are other issues that have been raising red flags to me.

    -Kindergarten.... he talked all the time about a 1st grader "G" who always seemed to be in trouble, or making bad choices.
    -The one child in his class, "M" that had all kinds of rotten behaviors- belching in my face one day while I was helping a little girl tie her shoes, talking rudely to adults etc- is one he started to gravitate towards.
    -First grade- he continued sitting by "M" at lunch, and playing with him on the playground.   We had many many discussions about choosing friends, and who you decide to hang out with can affect how others view you, and you have to make good choices in friends or you may find yourself in trouble even if YOU weren't doing anything wrong.
    -Second grade was when I really became concerned with SCHOOL, as well as friends.  1.  His class was a bit... disorganized.   I volunteered in his classroom one day a week, for the entire morning before lunch.   He had a student teacher for part of the year, which compounded the inconsistency in his classroom.  One child had an MP3 player in class.  There were tons of distractions- a handful of kids who were just... off the wall.  During writing assignments I couldn't help but feel like.... Porter can do better than what he's doing.  He isn't putting forth enough effort because there isn't structure here.  He's just "getting by".  He's capable of more.
    -I ask the boys every day... "Who did you sit with at lunch, kiddo?   Who did you play with a recess?"  I want to know who my child is choosing to spend their time with.   The boy in his 2nd grade class, "T", that he gravitated toward as a friend this year, knew more things than a 2nd grader should know.  It broke my heart, but also.... I don't want MY child exposed or hearing some of these things.  His dad had been in prison.  He stole from Porter.  He talked back to the teacher. He refused to listen to the teacher.  He put forth zero effort in his work and just scribbled.  The teacher told me at the end of the year that "T" was acting up more because he didn't want school to end and to be at home.  I'd discussed with the teacher if he was someone I should encourage or discourage Porter to play with/continue to be friends with.  He said Porter would be good for "T" but never let Porter go to his house.  My heart ached for this child but.... as a parent of my own child I have to protect MY child.   I felt like Porter was always going to have these friends he chose that I didn't allow him to hang out with outside of school.  And, as he gets older.... its going to get harder to discourage these friendships as peer pressure rises.
    -2nd grade, a boy was talking to Porter about SEX.   He came home and asked what it was.  What the actual hell.  SECOND GRADE!
    -Last year I had to stop the boys from riding the bus to and from school because the things I heard them say the 6th graders were talking about on the bus were so inappropriate.   Cussing, sexual words, threats to each other (not the boys, but other kids on the bus) etc.
    -3rd grade, I went on a field trip and in my group there were 4 kids.  A little boy and girl who were super sweet, Porter and another boy "D" who was a wild child.... as in, teacher having to ask him repeatedly to do things, him refusing to listen to the teacher, throwing a tantrum, etc.  Who does Porter talk about playing with? THIS child!
    -On the bus home from the field trip, I overheard another boy, "G", who was sitting in teh seat across the aisle from us say multiple totally inappropriate things. Mentioning something about "Condom candy" to the boy he was sitting with.  Joking about his friend (the boy he was sitting with) "licking his penis and liking it HAHAHA"  I was so appalled.  I said something to him numerous times and then the teacher did end up taking him to the front of the bus (along with "D" who was getting in trouble on the bus too).
    -The girls in front of us on the bus had her mom's iPod and were looking at half naked black and white model pictures of men on it and giggling. THIRD GRADE!  I'm sorry... but 1, why are you keeping sexual pictures of men on your phone (celebrities and the like.... you know, like you see some people Pin on Pinterest as "eye candy") and giving it to your child to take to school???
    -Hudson rides the bus from his school to Porter's after school so I can pick them up in one location.  Hudson told me one day a boy on the buss called him a "Mother F@$#er"
    -Porter- 3rd grade- goes out to recess with 6th graders. Doesn't this seem like a bit of an age gap to be playing unsupervised??  4th and 5th graders are together for recess.
    -Porter told me he was threatened during "Fun Friday recess" (an extra recess) by a 4th grader.   He was talking to his friend and this kid butted in, and Porter told him not to be rude and the boy told him "You'd better not talk to me or you'll be lying on the ground with a bloody nose/mouth (something like that)"

    AUGH!  As you can see.... its not just one incident.  And honestly, I can handle bullying/mean kids.  I can handle that.  And my kids are no strangers to swear words... I'm not mother of the year by any means.  But our society put so much sexualization in EVERYTHING and I'm starting to see the trickle down effect... its not just parents who let their little girls dress like mini teenagers... its the sexual things kids know about, hear about, think about.... and it grosses me out.   I want my children to be CHILDREN for as long as they can be.  I don't want to have to explain to my 3rd grader what a condom is.  I don't want my 3rd grader oogling over sexual pictures of the opposite sex.  And, I don't feel this way so much about HUDSON'S experience at school... he's in 1st grade right now and I haven't had one concern about friends/kids in his class etc.  He plays with 2 little girls most often, and they take stuffed animals to school and play with them on the playground.  I haven't had any red flags with him- yet- other than the kid on the bus calling him a MF'er.

    The hard thing is.... I don't dislike the school or school district.  I have no problem with the teachers or the curriculum.  I have FRIENDS who send their children there who have totally different experiences and who love it there.   I KNOW there are great kids that go to the school because I know their parents.  I want more than anything to LOVE where I send my kids to school.  I WANT to send them off to public school and feel they're safe and learning about age-appropriate things and not having access to the minds of children who have been corrupted by their parents/home environment.  I know private school isn't going to shelter them from all of this either.  There will be naughty kids there.  I know homeschool won't hide them from the horrors of the world forever, and to be honest it could totally trash our parent/child relationship because I honestly don't feel like I'm cut out for it.

    I don't know what the solution is right now.  I do know I've had this nagging feeling for the past year that this isn't working.  I don't know what to do, or where to go.   I could discuss all these concerns with the principal but honestly.... are they going to follow my child around and make sure he's not hearing inappropriate conversations at school on the playground?  No.  Is it going to change how other parents are parenting their kids at home?  No.  Is it going to change Porter's choice in friends he plays with during free time?  No. Its all things that CAN'T be controlled that are the problem.

    Thursday, November 13, 2014

    what's gotten into me this year?

    Usually we don't get our Christmas tree until the weekend after Thanksgiving.  We've actually been known not to put up a tree until freakin' the middle of December.  But this year.... I'm soooo ready to get decorated for the holidays, and it seems like so many of my Facebook friends are ready too!  PEER PRESSURE!

    I know everyone complains that Thanksgiving gets looked over but.... why can't you celebrate Thanksgiving with Christmas decorations up?  I think I'm going to this year!!!

    Amelia and I went grocery shopping today and we browsed all the Christmas aisles.  I picked up some stocking stuffers for the kids (I love being able to shop for presents with a toddler who won't remember HAHAH!) and I've already started ordering Christmas gifts.   During AJ's dance class I made a list on my phone of random people in our day to day lives that we should make/give gifts to (like their teachers, dance teacher, art teacher, Nancy at the barn who takes care of the horses, the UPS guy... etc).  I'm just... SO in the Christmas spirit this year!   YAY!  

    This weekend I think we're heading up to the Novi Equestrian Expo and the boys have riding lessons on Sunday but I think somewhere in between there we're going to try to get down at least some of the Christmas decorations.  Besides.... Ry bought some shelves to organize the attic so this would be a PERFECT time to get that done too!

    Monday, November 10, 2014

    Because when...

    When your 2 year old asks you to ride horses with you, you say yes.  Always. 



    today... is a big day!

    Today I did something that I thought would not happen for decades.

    I paid of the 2nd and 3rd of my 5 student loans.  PAID IN FULL.   Oh my holy word.   It feels AWESOME to feel free from a chunk of that debt.

    I can't wait to tackle the last 2, and then Ryan's.  I want to be student-loan debt free before next summer which will mean.... I will have paid off a total of $100k in student loans in a years' time.  Oh yes.   For reals.   AMAZING huge sigh of relief.

    I have so many goals after that.  First will be Ryan finding his niche and working from home.... not sure what he plans to do but he is wanting to leave his job badly, but he needs to have SOMETHING to do with his time.

    My next huge goal will be to buy either a farmhouse to renovate and 20-30 acres, or buy 20-30 acres and begin building our dream home on it.  That probably won't happen for a few more years but that's the next huge accomplishment I want to take on.  I still have no idea where we want to live long-term.   Its scary to think of moving away from Michigan but the longer I'm here the more I despise the weather.  The thing is.... I hate HOT summers, but I also hate months on end of soggy, gray, cold weather too.  Can I have somewhere that is 75* year round please?

    Sunday, November 9, 2014

    Hudsonisms...

    This weekend we went to Birch Run shopping.   Hudson picked out this red sweater at Nautica he looooved so we bought it for him.  He bugged us the whole entire day to wear it.   This morning, we told him he could wear it to church if he wanted to.  He was totally geeked.   On the way to church we overheard this conversation in the back of the truck.

    Hudson:  Porter, I knit this sweater!
    Porter:  No you didn't!  Mom, Hudson is saying he knit his sweater.  Did he?
    Me:  I don't know.... maybe?
    Hudson:  Yep!  See!!  That's why they call me a "K"nit-wit.

    I about died.  Just.  About.  Died.

    Then, after church we stopped at Dunham's.  Hudson hopped out and still had on his sticker/nametag from church.  He says "I could be a worker here!  I'm like.... a MINI worker!"  


    Saturday, November 8, 2014

    torn

    I have this daydream often that we live on a farm with chickens and goats and horses and I homeschool and the kids and I laugh all day and everything we do is filled with learning and wonder and excitement.  I know it's a fantasy.  It's not reality, or mine at least.  This is the highlight reel plastered on blogs and Instagram accounts.  

    But what keeps resonating with me is this pull to homeschool them.  I really felt the urge beginning last fall, when Porter was in 2nd grade.  His class was disorganized and chaotic.  Luckily he's a good student and learns quickly, but every time I volunteered I couldn't help but think.... We could do this writing in half the time and I know porter can do a better job than he's doing!  And the friends.... He's a good kid but he is constantly drawn toward the naughty kids of the class.  He thrives on their exciting, rebellious behavior and constantly befriends them.  He knows their behavior is wrong.  He doesn't cross the line at school but he does come home with some behaviors and knowledge about things that we don't discuss or allow at home. We live in a bit of a transient community, but there are some great families and great boys in his grade that he could be friends with.  However, there is never more than 1 or 2 of these good kids in his class.

    Last year I had the boys stop riding the school bus because of some of the things they told me were being said/talked about on the bus by 6th graders.  This year I was just appalled at some of the language and things spoken about by one of the boys in his class.  

    And the more I really analyze schools-from teaching to volunteering positions- I realize how much time is "wasted" and not actually educational.  They're there for 7 hours a day.  So much of that time is spent transitioning 25+ kids from one lesson to the next, or getting everyone to follow directions or quiet down.   My kids are spending 7 hours a day with kids that I can't control what they learn from home or say at school and I'm not there to mediate.  They could be learning the same amount in less than half the time at home.  

    I keep feeling like I'm being pulled to homeschool but the thing is.... I feel like the worst mother ever as it is.  My patience is shot by the evening.  I feel like my plate is so full as it is.  Truth be told, most days I look forward to dropping the boys off at school and having the day free from chaos and fighting.  I know that if I tried homeschooling it would be a bust.  I would suck not only as their teacher but as their mother as well.  Not to mention working from home on top of that.  I don't know how I could possibly balance it all. 

    It kills me that I don't have the attitude of loving to be around my kids all the time.  It kills me that, I'll be honest, Porter's challenging personality exhausts me on a daily basis and that some days it is all I can do to even like him.  

    I headed to bed with worries heavy on my shoulders.  I'm not sure what the right choice is for us.  Do I attempt to homeschool and really get my life in gear and organized to the minute and planned and productive?  Do I switch schools?  Do I look into private schools?  Do I hire someone to homeschool for me?  

    I passed porters room on the way to bed and paused to watch him sleep.  I used to do this every night when he was little.  I love him with all my heart.  There are many days I don't like him (and many days I don't even like myself because of my lack of ability to deal with his personality) but I always love him.  I want to shelter him from the bad things in this world.  I worry about his choices.  I worry about the path he will take in life.  I just want the best for him. For all our kids.  Right now I just don't know what exactly IS the best.  

    Thursday, November 6, 2014

    Ameliaisms

    10.16.14
    -I cared a wonder (I’m scared of thunder)

    -Early one morning snuggling in bed with Porter and I. 
    Amelia:  "Poe, you gimme a frog?” 
    Poe: "no”. 
    Amelia: "dang it all"

    -One day I called her Sugar Bear. She said "I not sugar bear. I just a-meeah"

    11.6.14
    -I was dropping her off at Oma's one morning and getting out of the truck she says "I don't want to scare Oma. She nice"

    -She's so bossy to the boys. At dinner tonight she says "stop talking boys. Shhh!" She is constantly tattling on them but it's for the silliest things. Like "Poe say me to stop it". "Poe say me be quiet".  

    -Riding in the car today I said "the clouds look like cotton candy!"  She laughed so hard and said "you funny mama!"  I said "I just want to eat those clouds up!"  She laughed harder and said "yum yum I eat them in my belly!!"

    pay it forward....







    I'm in this major pay-it-forward mood lately, and yesterday a friend inspired me to give anonymously more often.  Yesterday the boys and I headed to the Animal Shelter to drop off donations.  On the way there we swung through McD's to get a drink and McFlurry.  I paid for the car behind me.  This McD's was in kind of a sketchy area of town and the McD's worker looked at me like I had 2 heads when I told her I wanted to pay for the car behind me as well.  Porter was totally in awe that I did... he said "That was REALLY nice, mom!"  I hope that I inspired him, too.



    Today, Amelia and I did a little shopping after dance class and I had a craving for a spicy chicken sandwich from Wendy's so we... uh I... decided to hit up drive through again.   I ordered and then noticed the really old, sputtering rusty truck behind me and thought... what the heck.  Two pay it forwards in two days.  So I paid for his order, too.  It was $20 or so, so I hope that maybe he was ordering for some work friends, too, and maybe I spread a little sunshine not only to his day but to theirs as well.

                                     

     I plan to make a list of things I can do throughout the holidays (and throughout the year!)... some intentional and some random and anonymous.   This year is the first year ever we've been in the financial position to just give freely and generously and it feels amazing to be able to do this for others.  So the moral of the story here is.... not that I've eaten fast food wayyyy too much lately, but that even the smallest little acts of kindness can go a long way.  Spread some sunshine into others' lives.