Brooklyn’s First Christmas Program!

If there is one thing Brooklyn likes best in the world it is attention. A Christmas program, with a crowd full of people to perform to? Heaven.
Mom, dad, siblings and grandparents in the front row? Even better!

The day of I was as full of excitement as she was. This was my first born’s first school performance!! I made sure we got ready to go extra early and we arrived a full hour before it was to start! I REALLY wanted those front row seats!

Before we left I snapped some pictures of everyone in the backyard.
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We were there so early there were only two other families there at first. We had time to take some pictures and lots of time to talk and goof around. Allan’s parents came a half hour later. At one point or another all of my kids danced to the music that was playing.
Oh and the last thing I want to remember is how all of the programs and events at Brooklyn’s school this year have been in the gym/cafeteria and they said nothing of this event being outdoors and it was one of the coldest nights of the year. Luckily we brought sweaters. It was literally a last second thing as we’re heading out… should we bring sweaters?
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A kid from her class was there too so she was acting really silly to show off.
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It got really cold!
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Allan’s parents wanted to see her classroom before we left so we went and saw her teacher and she showed us her desk.
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TALKING

Talking, talking, talking with Allan about moving.

I don’t want to spend my entire life living away from my family, in a desert. I’ve spent ten years away from my beloved home and I just can’t stand it anymore. We’re going to put our house on the market next spring! I feel a huge relief. I’ve tried everything to be happy here, I can honestly say I gave it my ALL and I just can’t do it anymore.

So… hopefully at the end of next year we’re moving!
I feel less depressed already.

Attempt #5?

This is the fifth time I’ve tried to take pictures of my kids together for a Christmas card. I’m not very picky about what they’re wearing or if they’re smiling naturally. I just want two things:
-eye contact
-close together

If they’re not close together it’s not a keeper for me, for cards. I have several I’m printing for my walls but there’s something about Christmas cards that makes me need my kids to be super close together. I don’t know… but I haven’t got anything even close to good enough to print and send to people, as a card.

So I’m thinking, why the heck am I like that?
I don’t know. But I am and I can’t help it so I’m just going to stop trying for a Christmas card picture! I’ve got some cute pictures of my kids that I LOVE and that’s all that I care about. Besides, most of my family sees these pictures online anyway. Save paper by doing it through email. Right? 🙁
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The thing that bothers me in that picture is the gap between Sierra/Payson and Brooklyn/Ember.
But besides that, how cute are they?! I can’t wait to print this for my wall!

Not so Merry or Bright

I don’t know why I do nice things for my kids. I really don’t. They pretty much never appreciate it. They’re much better human beings when they have a regular old day with their same old toys and same old food and same old boring routine.

We set up our Christmas tree and decorated it and we made sugar cookies. Allan is in South America for the week so it was just me and the kids.
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The girls were being greedy and selfish over the ornaments and downright mean to Payson so I was upset with them. I tried to stay calm and nice and told myself that I would never again decorate the tree without Allan.
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Ember woke up from a short afternoon nap near the end of the decorating.
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I took a bunch of ornaments and let Payson put them whereever he wanted.
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I didn’t realize how tall Ember is. She can reach the tree even when it’s on a table. After two broken ornaments within an hour of it being up it is now safely in my bedroom until closer to Christmas 😛
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We have a tradition that every year each kid gets a new ornament.
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With their new ornaments. I also bought each family member a picture frame ornament. I love doing that every year for the tree because I love pictures! haha
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We made sugar cookies next. I got the girls some premade stuff because I had to make a special gluten free, dairy free version of everything for Payson. The gluten/dairy free stuff tasted like crap but none of my kids (or me) likes the taste of sugar cookies anyway, we just like decorating them! haha
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Ember was upset that she wasn’t in my arms. I spent the rest of the time holding her.
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Sierra and Payson were so cute watching the cookies bake.
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Brooklyn spent the time making more cookies.
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I let the kids taste everything as they went along. I told them to not eat too much because we needed enough for the cookies. So Brooklyn, being Brooklyn, did not stop eating the frosting and sprinkles the entire time we made cookies.
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Payson ended up using the girls’ dairy frosting when I wasn’t looking. So I told him not to eat that cookie and made him others but he ate the cookie when I was cleaning up. So at that point in the evening I was super pissed that with all the efforts to make things fair for him and gluten/dairy free he ruined it all and I’m going to have to deal with diarrhea cleanup from hell. I’m STILL upset about that. haha
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I was having a REALLY hard time cleaning up and starting dinner and trying to keep everything from falling apart with ONE arm so I set Ember down. That lasted two seconds >:-(
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I was plain old annoyed at this point and ready for it all to be DONE and for the kids to go to bed. But it was early and I had barely even started dinner so I just grit my teeth and put on a smile and dealt with it.
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After dinner the kids and I were watching a Christmas movie. I got up to walk around with a cranky Ember.
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We’ve watched a Christmas movie most nights this month. Well maybe every other night? I don’t know, we’ve watched probably 7. Anyway, this night was one I recorded called Beethoven’s Christmas something or other. It was one of the stupidest movies I’ve EVER seen. And I’ve seen a LOT of dumb kids’ movies. haha
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After I got the three older kids to bed I moved the Christmas tree to my room.
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Sierra sleeps in there because… we have a really weird setup for bedtimes right now. We let all the kids fall asleep and then we move Sierra into Payson’s room when Allan and I go to bed. If we put Sierra and Payson together awake they will not fall asleep at ALL. Seriously they’ll be up ALL night. So we wait until Payson’s asleep and then move Sierra in his room.

Sierra used to have her own room but a while ago we moved her in with Payson because we’re trying to get Ember to sleep in Sierra’s room. As soon as Ember sleeps without me (I sleep with her in Sierra’s room!) then we’ll move her and Sierra together!
Whew.
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I probably sound super cranky in this post. The day actually wasn’t bad, the kids thought it was the best day EVER. I am just tired and overworked being alone with four kids all the time. I can’t wait until Allan gets back.

Hey, I Talked a Lot

I have to tell you, today was pretty stressful.

I figure I share the good so I should share the bad as well. I’m not sharing to complain, this is life and life is hard sometimes, I’m sharing simply to show that even when things look all rosey that doesn’t mean life is all rosey all the time.

I had so much going on today. I always have a lot going on and I know pretty much all of us do. Why one day feels tremendously more difficult than any other day, I don’t know.

Maybe just the fact that I had to talk on the phone for over an hour this morning while doing the stuff I usually do. I hate talking on the phone but sometimes it’s absolutely necessary! Doctor appointments to schedule, phone bills to get straight, etc.
My kids do not EVER stop talking so phone calls are very near torture for me. I get so mad that any subject me and the other person are talking about turns into something negative for me. Allan might call me up to tell me he earned a $25 gift card or something and all three of the kids at home start talking/crying/whining at the same time and I’m like, “I don’t care about gift cards! I hate money! If someone ever gave me a $25 gift card I would punch them in the face!”

Maybe not really that extreme, but probably pretty close!

Besides the phone call and the endless, truly endless, talking and whining by Sierra and Payson (Sierra the talker, Payson the whiner, naturally) it was a really tiring day. I promised myself that as soon as I was feeling a little better and my voice was decent enough to speak I’d dive back into homeschool full swing and that day has come. We’ve done three full days after almost three weeks off (we did bits and pieces while sick the last few weeks but not really any formal lessons), it was time. And it’s been rough trying to add that back in while taking care of a still-sick baby and finishing all the other million things around the house I have to.

Homeschooling is pretty tough. It’s not just the added workload of teaching but the fact that there is not one minute away from kids… it gets really difficult to stay positive when my role as mom is so relentless. I cry a lot (a lot when my kids are sick and therefore extra needy) in the afternoons or evenings from the stress of it all. Today it was SO MUCH chaos that after having spent 9 straight hours with my kids without a single second of quiet I literally went in my room and hid. I didn’t even do anything either, just stood behind my armoir and stared at the wall across from me.
And can I just say that when I said not one second of quiet… you guys, I am not joking. I am not even a little bit joking. It was a very loud day and nothing worked to quiet them down! Even quiet games, even reading together, even the desperate turning on of the TV at the end of the day. Their mouths were relentless! And Ember! Oh my gosh that baby girl (I love her more than anything) is usually a super clingy baby and when she’s sick!! I need to be a kangaroo and have a pouch because my arms are basically falling off my body in pain…

I guess it’s not fair to blame it on homeschooling… feeding and caring for Payson and his allergies (he has many but I usually only talk about gluten) while living off of less than five hours of sleep and having a super clingy baby… it’s all a bit much.

I call Allan sometimes around 4pm and tell him that I’m going to put the kids in bed and when he gets home I’m going out to just be alone. To just sit and breathe.

And then I feed the kids and put them to bed and he gets home and my entire body is way too tired to go do something more. Even something fun. So I might blog, I might watch a TV show, maybe Allan and I will talk, but I never actually go anywhere because I’m seriously too brain dead and tired to function in public at that point.

I wish there was a way I could get out during the day. Or maybe just the weekends. I should go somewhere every Saturday for a few hours. I really should. I had just started that before we all got sick. Now that Ember is so sick she really just wants me and my boobs so I’m pretty stuck.

And so there you have it. What I think and feel while smiling and lovingly teaching and caring for my children all day 😉

As much fun as they have and as kind and patient as I act, inside I’m really hurting sometimes. This week is one of those times.

And in spirit of full disclosure I’m breastfeeding Ember as I type this post (for the fortieth time today) and Payson has been playing with toys on my desk and talking to me nonstop. Though it’s 5:30pm and I have spent the ENTIRE day with him. It doesn’t matter to kids. In fact, he’s had his arm resting on mine the entire time, too. I don’t remember wanting that much of my mother’s time and attention when I was little! After 10 hours wouldn’t you get sick of your own mother?

For all this talking I did I have a lot of pictures too!

I had my camera propped up from taking pictures of something else yesterday so today when I was on the phone with Allan and walked past I decided to take a few pictures with Ember while chatting.
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Today school started off with a leftover activity from our lake time yesterday. We colored little fish and made fishing poles. Payson broke two of the fishing poles within ten seconds. I fixed them though thankfully so all breakdowns were averted.
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I can not for the life of me remember what we were talking about and the whole reason I took this picture was because it was something hilarious. Darn my mommy brain!
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We talked about what colors fish are and what they eat and stuff like that. Payson’s kit (it’s from Mother Goose Time if you’re wondering) also had a little fishing lure worm and the plan was to put it in a paper bag and talk about something fish could eat and they had to feel the worm and guess what it was.
But Payson found the worm and broke it long before that was a possibility. haha
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We moved on to today’s preschool curriculum which was about pinecones. There were some other little activities we did and then there was a story with cut out pictures to go along with it.
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Then we covered pinecones with peanut butter and bird seed and hung them up outside.
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Half the peanut butter went on the pinecones and half went in their mouths.
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We came back inside and Sierra did spelling. We practiced syllables a little bit.
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And then moved on to review while Payson colored on the whiteboard. (Sierra is using All About Spelling)
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Next was math. We’re using Hands on Standards for Payson and Rightstart Math level B for Sierra.
Today we did counting by 5s and 10s. We counted to 5 and back. We did our basic math addition facts. We did some word problems. We pulled out our attribute blocks and talked about shapes and sizes and practiced sorting. And some other stuff that I’m too lazy to type about. haha
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We went and got Brooklyn from school and her tooth is getting really loose!
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Allan came home later and we all hung out.
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And if that wasn’t enough for you I have a billion video clips too! Ok, six.
Sorry if they’re boring. A videographer I am not.

Allan and the Kids

Sierra is the one that asked me to take this picture over the weekend. She and Brooklyn were cuddling with Allan and she told me I should get my camera. I didn’t really feel like getting up and getting my camera since I was comfortably lounging with everyone on the ground myself, but how could I turn down a request like that?! I went and got the point and shoot.

When I came back they’d told Payson to join them and I put Ember nearby as well and it turned into another daddy and kids shot!
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I’ll try to take a few pictures during school again today. And I really need to start taking more pictures of Brooklyn. It’s tough because she gets home and I get her a snack and we talk and then I let her do whatever the craft was for the middle kids that day. Then we read together and then it’s dinner and I just completely forget about taking pictures. I should take a picture of her doing the daily craft! I don’t know why I don’t!

Homeschooling

It’s been a while since I talked about homeschooling! I don’t know that I have much to say about it so I took a bunch of pictures to share what the middle kids are up to.

It’s interesting homeschooling Sierra and Payson without Brooklyn around. Three months ago everything was about Brooklyn with my leftover attention going to Sierra. Sierra is now the oldest student at home during the day. Such a shift! Payson does everything Sierra does if he’s interested. He’s learning so much. I’m so proud of him.

Sierra has always been my sponge. Teaching her is pretty easy.
We have a flexible routine when it comes to school time. Some days Sierra’s curriculum is the focus and then some days Payson’s curriculum is the focus. When we’re using Sierra’s stuff I make sure to find ways to make it all preschool age appropriate for Payson. When we’re using Payson’s stuff I add extra for Sierra.

We started the other day with handwriting.
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We do LOTS of activities for handwriting. Tracing laminated printed letters. Making letters in shaving cream. Writing letters with our fingers in paint. Making letters out of dough. Making letters out of toys/blocks/string/our fingers. Tracing squiggly lines, straight lines, making curves, making dots and on and on! Handwriting is SO fun!
This day I taught him how to write the number 3 since he loves it, since he’s three of course!
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Then I drew some letter outlines spelling out his name for him to trace.
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We moved on to math next. We practiced graphing that day. Graphs are awesome, you can do lots of things with graph paper (or a big chart like we use.) First I made patterns in the rows and left a few squares empty for Sierra to fill in.
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Next Sierra made her own patterns while I set up the next activity.
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Then I gave her some pattern blocks to sort by color. I made a worksheet with questions for her to answer. She loved this.
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We did a LOT of other stuff that day but I got way too busy to take any more pictures so these next pictures are from the day after (today.)
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Group shots before we start.
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I try to find fun things for Ember to do while we do school. Sometimes she’s so clingy and whiny (often) that I simply wait until she takes her nap (at 10 or 11) to start.
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I don’t think she’d ever seen this toy before so it kept her busy for over ten minutes.
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When she got bored of that toy I brought out some old Highlight magazines for her to look through (read: rip up.)
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We were working with Payson’s curriculum first thing. We learned about trails and hiking and were playing a game.
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Ember got really fussy right then. I attempted to put her down for a nap but she freaked out. Instead I held her for the rest of the game.
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The kids loved the game. You simply go around a board collecting clothes for your guy.
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Eventually I got Ember to bed and we did some other things and then the kids were saying they were starving. We had an early lunch.
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Most days I cook their lunch but this morning they were begging for a bagged lunch like Brooklyn got so I made theirs same as hers. I read them the story of Hansel and Gretel while they ate (they wanted me to do their favorite thing and change the names to Sierra and Payson) and then we talked about Hansel and Gretel’s (excuse me, Payson and Sierra’s) walk through the forest and I told them we were going on a walk like that.
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I quickly set up some sights that we’d stop and do activities at and we were on our way. The first stop was this flower field. They took a picture (with our point and shoot) and then gathered the flowers. I wrote letters and numbers on the backs of the flowers. Later on they sorted out the letters and traded until they got their names spelled.
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There was a sleeping bear rock.
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A waterfall (that sign is from Payson’s curriculum kit, I use their ideas as a starting place and LOVE that there are premade little things like that to go along with it all.
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The last stop was the world’s smallest lake. There was a white boat to float around in.
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This is when they had sorted their flowers making their names.
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Another activity that came with Payson’s kit was to use starch noodles to make rock formations. You wet the end of one noodle and it sticks to another.
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This is the last photo because I got bored to death taking pictures but my kids ended up smashing all the noodles together in the end. It was gross; I don’t like those starch noodles.
I don’t remember what we did for the rest of the day because I didn’t take pictures! ha. I need to start keeping track in a planner. I used to keep really good notes on all we did but haven’t done that for months!
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How often should I blog about homeschooling? Is it boring? Is it interesting to you? Let me know. Seriously, let me know. I probably won’t blog about homeschooling anymore if it’s not very interesting to anybody. It is difficult to take pictures while teaching and guiding activities so if no one cares I’m just wasting my time! haha.