Sunday, June 28, 2015

My annual post

Yes, we are still kicking!  It's been a year since my last post, which spurred me to finally buckle down and write something up again.  Just in case anyone happens to mosey on by.

Summer is starting once again, and it's still quite overwhelming to see it stretched before us.  Easier in certain ways because the kids are older -- I'm sleeping more so I don't feel as run-down, and I no longer need a U-Haul of diapers attached to the back of the minivan before we go somewhere.  When we are at the park, I don't fear them running off, because they know they'd have to start over with their Lego collections if they ever decided not to come home.  But they are bigger now, and louder, and they are fine-tuning the art of brotherly brawls, which brings new challenges as well.  It's all part of the package, of course.

We have quite a few activities planned for the summer, so I'm hoping the weeks will pass relatively quickly.  Not like I'm looking forward to sending THREE of my four kids off to full-day elementary school in the fall.  A countdown?  No siree bob, not me!  *ahem*  My brother-in-law and his wife will be coming for a visit for July 4th, then gymnastics camp for Gax and Littlest, then vacation Bible school for the bigger three, baseball camp for Bean, Great Wolf Lodge for my dad's (belated) 60th birthday, and last but not least, a trip to Michigan for my amazing Grandma's 90th birthday party.  And then, eventually, hopefully, it will be August 31...

Let's do a quick rundown of the past year, just for kicks!

Bean is 7 years old now.  He just finished first grade, and it was another super smooth year for him.  His teacher was great, and Bean refers to all of his classmates as his friends.  He's looking forward to next year, as it will bring him one step closer to applying to Michigan State for college.  Everything is Spartan with him -- for example, with some of his birthday money, he purchased MSU duct tape and toothbrush.  Bean has given all of his Legos to his brothers to focus all of his energy on sports.  Any and all sports, any and all the time.  Playing, watching, discussing, analyzing rankings, staying on top of the latest scores.  I never knew how much I would miss Team Umizoomi until yesterday when Bean decided to forgo Saturday morning cartoons for SportsCenter.  The times, they are a'changing...

Nix is 5 years old and will be entering kindergarten in the fall.  Although he tends to have the most separation anxiety of all the boys and I'm a bit nervous about how he'll handle the first few drop-offs, I know he is chomping at the bit to get into the classroom.  He is a sponge and tries to soak up all the learning he can before I am finally exhausted from all his questions and need to hide in a closet.  This is how I know I was not meant to be a homeschooler, as I am already tired of trying to make up answers.  This is why Google was invented, kid.  Learn to spell and look it up.  Reading stories, telling time, counting money, solving math problems, writing books... he has such an active mind.  He also loves to play sports with Bean and get as much screen time as he can con me into.  I am excited to see him thrive in the fall!

Gax is, of course, also 5 years old.  He amazes us constantly with the unique way he views the world.  He embodies the term "master builder" -- he is much less interested in following the Lego directions and more focused on building something new and unexpected.  It's fascinating to watch his creative mind work, and I try hard as a parent to foster and celebrate that, even when in certain situations it makes me want to bang my head against the wall repeatedly.  This quality translates to art, too, as Gax also loves drawing; he creates masterpieces with mixed materials (like Elmer's glue on top of mountains to give the feel of snow).  He has a giving heart and loves to create Lego objects and pictures for me.  I have a whole collection of creations that I have to try to sneakily dismantle and return to his bin lest I have to entirely redecorate our master bedroom in modern Lego style.  Gax is very excited to join the big kids at the elementary school next year, I think he's ready for a bit more freedom away from home.

Littlest is 3 years old.  *sniff sniff*  It's difficult to put his personality into words... he's just pure JOY.  He skips and hops and jumps everywhere he goes.  He is equally thrilled to be playing with his big brothers, or to be independently immersed in the world of his trucks.  Littlest is my snuggle buddy, he will curl up in my lap and tell me that I am the "best mommy ever."  Fulfilling his role as the youngest child, he is a complete ham and loves to goof off and make us laugh.  But he just has to be himself to make us smile -- his excitement over simple things in life, and when he says certain words and phrases that he heard from his older brothers, it just has us in stitches.  He'll be starting at the "big boy" preschool in the fall, which is drop-off three mornings a week.  I will be working in the classroom about once a month, which I enjoy because I get to see how he's doing without the big commitment of the full co-op he was in before.

DH weathered an incredibly stressful 9 months with his career, but he's getting back on solid footing.  In the fall, his employer announced that they are moving 2,000 jobs to the Midwest, and his job was among them.  St. Louis is a great place to live, but we have grown roots in Seattle, and we feel our family belongs here.  Not to mention that my parents moved nearby to spend more time with their grandkids!  Hubby loved his job and it was a really emotional separation, but he joined a start-up in mid-April and it's a really interesting environment and challenge for him.  Sometimes you don't realize that a change could be good for you until you are forced into one.

I am moving along at my own pace.  It has been about 7 years since I became a SAHM, and a rather intense 7 years, having 4 kids within the first 4 years.  I have no regrets about my decision, as it has enabled me to participate in co-op preschool and attend all of the activities and field trips at the elementary school.  I try to manage the household during the day to maximize our family time in the evenings and weekends.  That being said, I am feeling a bit of an itch lately.  I do get a healthy dose of "me" time thanks to my husband and parents, but I don't have anything in my life right now that provides me the same immediate sense of accomplishment that my previous jobs did.  I have been approached to start working at the co-op preschool in a parent education capacity, and a dear friend has asked me to start dying fabric in new ways for her to incorporate in her baby carrier business.  (I've been dying baby wraps for about 5 years now, mainly for fun.)  As the big kids go back to school in the fall, hopefully I will have more time to pursue these.

And as I could never post with some... here are a few photos from the past couple of months.  No, I'm not sure how they got so big!























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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Despite my best efforts, it is once again SUMMER

Last summer was brutal for me, I'll be honest.  With a 1-year-old, two 3-year-olds, and a 5-year-old at home, I was exhausted and overwhelmed.  There weren't many places where I could handle taking all of the kids by myself without fear of losing one or two of them, so I needed back-up most times I left the house.  I was tired from being woken up at night, and spread thin trying to provide basic care for all of them and keep them entertained as well.  Nevertheless, we muddled through and somehow limped into September, when full-day kindergarten and preschool schedules provided relief.

So needless to say, I enter this summer with trepidation.  The expanse of two-and-a-half months awaiting us... with only a few scheduled activities.  However, a lot has changed since then.  Bean matured a lot during the school year, becoming more confident and self-sufficient.  Nix and Gax are potty trained now (for the most part) and I can generally trust them not to wander off (again, for the most part).  Littlest is both easier in some ways -- like his steady sleep schedule -- and more difficult, as he considers himself one of the big boys now, and not a baby to be carried and directed by mom.  I feel like while I may not entirely have stepped out of "survival mode," I at least have one toe in sanity.

Bean has a few activities on his schedule for the next few months.  His "invention camp" was canceled, huge bummer, but we still have soccer camp, baseball camp, and vacation bible school.  After a disastrous and embarrassing soccer season with Nix and Gax, I decided to limit them to vacation bible school this summer, beyond the informal playdates and park visits.  And Littlest... well, as it is with a fourth child, he is just along for the ride.  And he loves every minute of it.  We also have a visit from DH's parents on the agenda for July 4th, as well as a quick trip to Michigan for a wedding the first weekend of August -- WITHOUT THE KIDS!  Amen and hallelujah.

I am ever behind with pictures, but here are some from a local carnival and Father's Day.





























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