Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas SlideShow

So I will (someday) catch you up on Miss H and Cubby's seventh birthday, and their triathalon, and Lil Bit's number three birthday and Thanksgiving, and Cubby's first gym meet as a team level gymnast... but for now... please enjoy Christmas!

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Monday, September 26, 2011

a moment

an amazing thing happened here.. Miss H has been working to finish up all her projects for the fair. She just had a few sewing things to work on since she completed her art work over the summer. She had a long list of things we had bought fabric for and anyhow..

I was watching her work, giving advice when needed, and apparently sometimes when not needed.. she has grown up before my very eyes. As she was manipulating the fabric and pins under the presser foot I noticed even her fingers have stretched and lengthened so that they are nimble elegant mature. The sound of her quiet voice guiding herself through a proper pivot, and perfect backstitch was a comfort. She has become a wonderfully patient seamstress, her projects are beyond beautiful to me. It's not the stitch work, it's how much growth these new items represent. The handstitched binding on a quilt for kit, the serged seams on the cutest pair of tommy hilfiger eat your heart out sailor pants with adjustable waist, the double top-stitching on a denim skirt. She is a different child than last summer. Industrious, not busy.

As she was stitching the last button on her skirt I couldn't help but to kiss the top of her head like when she was an infant. "How did we get here to this moment?" my heart whispered, she doesn't need me, but she wants me, she's independent but inclusive. She's creative but careful. I am in awe of her!

Today as I was putting her hair into two quick braids for school she looked at me in the mirror and said, "you know.. I can do two ponies myself, but sometimes they come out crooked." I met her eyes in the glass and answered, "Well you probably just need more practice, I don't let you do your own hair very often, because I like spending time with you in the morning, and talking with you."

you know what she said, " I know mom, I like it too." **

What a blessing to be part of her journey... and I'm telling you if she doesn't come home with a purple ribbon from that fair I will make her one!

**also this was certainly true today, and I have recorded it  here because I would like to remember that she said that, and that we had this glorious quiet patient morning where we enjoyed one another, because sometimes, it's not like that at all... not to ruin the post, but just you know for full disclosure.

Hannah's entries for the fair.. 2011

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

It's raining...

It's raining, God always sends the rain to cancel my sport practice just when I think I can do no more. I love that about Him.

We have ended our honeymoon period with the new school, or so it seems. There has been a rash of "mysterious illness" amongst the school age children requiring each of them to take a "sick day". I'm terribly frustrated about that. WE LOVE SCHOOL, I keep telling them. We are RILEY'S we LOVE School, for goodness sake both your PARENTS TEACH SCHOOL!!! Your house has practically been a school for your whole life!!!

Why oh why would you want to stay here and clean your room, read, write in journal and work in a workbook when you could be at a magical place called school?

seriously? Why?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

First Day of School

We have made a switch to a new school this year. Which is great, because all the school age kids get to go to the same school. Its less than great because I am left at home with Lil Bit and she is a TYRANT. I had completely underestimated misunderstood  romanticized the idea of being at home alone with my youngest child. And since she can use the potty by herself and get her own snack I had envisioned a bunch of time to complete my various mommy projects. Without the other three children to distract entertain run interference, Lil Bit has devoted all her attention to me. Suddenly she needs me to do EVERYTHING, I am now mommy, servant, praisegiver, playmate, and clean up crew. IT's EXHAUSTING! Also, our interests are not exactly aligned and she has alot of ideas about what we should be doing all the time. I would prefer coloring, arts/crafts, and reading. She seems to enjoy, making messes, being pushed on a swing and playing pirates. YIKES!

I do get all the snuggles, so that is a plus.

The decision about school remains to be proved positive or negative. They have lost funding for art and music so I have volunteered to come help, but I am terribly teary  frustrated. I just picture them in there with their little friends all day with no music and art and I get sad. Like really sad. They have however been doing some interesting work, and they have had sharing, and also gotten to play with balls on the playground. So far they have not had any complaints. Except the day Miss H said she didn't need to go to go there anymore because of the Mrs. Wishy Washy incident. Apparently her teacher didn't let the children read, and then didn't even read the "Good" Mrs. Wishy Washy. I was terribly concerned when Hannah followed up my sympathies, with "If my stomach hurt would I still have to go?"


I watched another little girl in the mornings all but the last two days of school, which is why I was so astonished to find Lil Bit unable to entertain herself. I have to say, nannying for a family in the morning might be exactly what I need, or this littlest one is going to have to head off to school.

I'll tell you who I'm not worried about at all is Little Daddy! HE LOVES school, also he has so far been seriously awesome about getting ready and remembering his belongings. He doesn't always remember everything he did for the three hours and forty five minutes we're apart, but he shares a good summary of his activities each day.

More on the kids triathalon.. soon.

Friday, September 2, 2011

a tricky question

If a stay at home mom with four kids and a loving husband, works each afternoon and evenings as a field hockey coach, tuesday and thursday mornings as a preschool teacher, recurriculums the church nursery, volunteers to teach some music and art at the kids school, since they no longer have funding, wants to help a friend build lockers in her hall, cleans the upstairs on fridays and the downstairs on thursdays, and packs 15 lunches a week, which day does she do the laundry?


I do laundry every stinking day and it is NEVER NEVER NEVER done.  Also.. I miss working out.
and sleeping.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


just found out from one of our new teachers that they lost their funding for music and art. WHAT?? How is that even an option? I will of course go in and help with some enrichment.. but people I am not a professional!! I sent my kids to school so that they could learn something they wouldn't learn at home. Seriously.. seriously regretting my choice. BIG TIME.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A letter to my Children

I am sad to say it's over guys, the summer and my days of being outnumbered all day! While the calendar has weeks more of glorious outdoor weather, the three of you bigger kids are all nestled in their beds patiently and or anxiously awaiting your first day at a new school. I doubt I will sleep at all tonight guys, because I am so nervous about whether we have made a good choice for all of you.

Little Daddy you are by far the most excited. (You have spent weeks deciding on the perfect backpack!) This being your first REAL school experience you have been counting down the days since we got your "you're in" letter from this school. You are an amazing young man, and I wasn't exagerrating when I told Mrs. Hastings that I think you are "ALL KINDS of AWESOME". You have always been a very flexible, easy going child, Little Daddy, and everyone loves to be your friend, because you have exactly the kind of tender heart that thinks of others first, and feels genuine sorrow when you've made a mistake. I am not worried about you and school at all, because I think you have made up your mind to LOVE it like awesome sauce. I will miss the way you become all mine when the big kids are away, I will miss your great ideas and creative play, and I will miss the way you are so careful and helpful with your younger sister all day, even when she is driving you BANANAS. I pray for you that when you are overwhelmed at school you will remember that you have an inner strength and a loving heart. I will try not to be the last mom in the carpool line. But your older brother and sister will tell you, sometimes I stink at pickup line.

Miss H you have been trying to hide your excitement out of concern for Cubby and I love that about you. I know that you are made for school Miss H, you are your mother's daughter afterall and I have seen in you this summer a creativity and industriousness that is new. You are immensely capable Miss H, in a way that makes me feel so blessed to be your mom and to be part of your journey. Watching you unfold your imagination this summer has been amazing, and I don't think I will ever look at Harry Potter, the tooth fairy or Santa the same way again. I have learned about you this year that you are very attentive to expectation, and you strive for excellence, except when you are in a hurry. I'm so proud to have you as my daughter. I pray for you this year that you will enjoy your classmates and their gifts, that you will challenge yourself to grow into all the gifts God has given you and that you continue to nurture and love your brothers. You are a great strength to me Miss H and a wonderful helper. I will miss your giggle immensely, and I know Lil Bit will too.

Cubby, you are my most exhuberant child. Never could I have imagined such a creative and sensitive person! You are anxious with this big change of schools Cubby, and you are the reason I agonized over making the switch. You are ART  with all its nuances and subletelys, you are expressive, and sulky at times, you believe in magic, You are faithful Cubby, and you are fiercely loyal. I know you are worried about all the changes and new faces and I pray for you to remember that you are loved. I pray that you continue to have a  magnetic personality and a great sympathy for others, and that you hone your creative and artistic gifts. I pray that you have the courage to embrace this great change as opportunity. You are "No Ordinary Boy" to me, or to anyone that has met you. I will miss not knowing what to expect from you next, and watching you flee from the hallway when you've switched the light off. I will miss your hilarious faces all day, and I sure hope Mrs. Best enjoys them!!

Lil Bit..
you are not even little anymore.. I don't know why I keep calling you that. Just tonight as I was packing up the lunches I said, "Hey save that last serving of smoothie and I'll feed it to the baby." You have grown up too fast for my taste! You are a little spicy. We are going to have such a fun time at home together I hope. I have never had just one kid at home so I suppose you'll have to tell me what to do. Good thing you have alot of practice in that area huh? I am thinking you will thrive with me all to yourself for a few hours, and possibly relax a little. I am looking forward to all your great snuggles, a million puzzles and your fabulous back rubs.

Above all my little chicks, I love you like awesome sauce! I want you to love learning, and school and for the whole experience to leave you a little breathless with wonder and excitement, but also spurred to stretch into your fuller selves.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Big Dealio

All Righty...

So if you have been reading this blog you will already be aware that I did allow the children to go to school this year. So both Cubby and Miss H trekked off to what I thought would be the best of my their options. I bristled a little bit when we were alerted to the no backpack rule after purchasing backpacks for the school year. But navigated the ever confusing car-rider pick up line anyhow. I kept signing the weekly packet and returning it, and listening to the kids recount their experiences.

There was alot of fun happening at Kindergarten. There was dance twice a week, which sounded a lot like freeze dance and direction following. There was music, which consisted mainly of singing. In class there was something called "settle in" and math centers, which from teaching the investigations curriculum looks alot like playtime. There was art, twice a week, the products from which were mainly marker/crayon/pencil line drawings.  After Christmas there was a Mondrian lesson, ASeurrat lesson, and a shading with pointilism lesson (I'm guessing was part of the Seurrat sessions). They watercolored some tulips for Mother's day. From their main teacher we took our turn with Brown Bear, and recorded his adventures. I waited for the "learning" the developmentally appropriate, the stretching of the children into more. But it did not come. I was told by the teacher that according to her assessments Cubby was a better reader than Miss H, (which is not accurate) and when I asked if during writing time they could be help accountable for more High frequency words with an additional list, or if she could write words they thought they would use during their writing that day in a bank for them the Mr. and I were told "Oh we don't really do that" When I asked Miss H, who LOVES to read why she wasn't bringing home books anymore she said that her teacher only had baby books in the classroom. When I asked the teacher if she kept a more challenging set of books somewhere she said it would be best if I just picked out books for Miss H because she didn't know what would be appropriate for her. What??! Certainly she's not the first kindergartener to read??! Don't worry, I didn't say that outloud.
They had a spring program, and I will admit the only picture of a school performance I had were my own elementary experiences and the program I witnessed as a student teacher at a school across town.
Cubby was crushed. The "Kindergarten" performance was actually a show to be preformed and choreographed by school of the arts dancers, and so the Kindergarteners were actually performing very little. Cubby spent more time "onstage" during our church's Christmas Eve family service, and.. I really wish they would have asked me to help with the costumes because they secured Miss H's headfeather to her head (along with the other 8 birds) with bright WHITE ONE INCH Elastic, and that was really distracting for me during the show. I MEAN REALLY distracting.
Anywoo we trekked on. I'm going to gloss over the part where the teacher seemed to insinuate that Cubby was a racist, because he is a history buff and quite imaginative. Because my heart speeds up when I think about it.
Both the kids really enjoyed having two "outside plays" everyday, although one one was supposed to be an organized game and it doesn't appear to have been so very often. (It's okay I just taught, jumprope, hopscotch, chinese jumprope, at home. Also the kindergartener's were not allowed to bring a ball to school, don't ask me why) They made some good friends.
We attended a few parties, I liked many of the parents we met they were great. The class is diverse in every way imaginable and fun. I really liked the way the teacher interacted with the kids, you could tell that she was a genuine nurturer. The kids sensed this too and really took to her, it is a comfort to send your kids off to school and know that the person watching over them enjoys them.

So the kids had a lot of fun. They learned very little. But they played some rhythm sticks in class, and wrote some funny journal entries (always in response to a prompt, and never a developed story) Also did I mention that the principal knows every student by name? I think that's pretty awesome. Last year she also taught a class because they needed to add a class to maintain class size, and she subs one day for each teacher in the building. All of that is awesome to me.

So.. I had just resigned myself to start over in a new year with a new teacher and seize the experience so to speak, just make the most of whatever the year offered and continue to supplement what I thought they were not getting at school. (So this year we did alot of journaling, reading and TALKING about what we read and Math workbooks.. because in the words of Cubby they only let us count to ten (they did eventually go higher but it took a LONG time)

When we got this call from another school saying they had spots for both Cubby and Miss H (and also a pre-k spot for Andrew) and my initial response was "Praise GOD!!" and then I wondered if it was the right choice. This school has art only once every two weeks. Music once a week (for 30 minutes) Enrichment is listed, and they go swimming part of the year at the local Y, but there's no drama, no first friday sings, no "performances" of any kind. Then I got all panicky.
The Mr. says I am impossible.

So I don't know which is right. Which IS right? Have I become someone who is willing to sacrifice fun in favor of time on task? Have I, who once had my surprise teaching evaluation when I had set aside a morning for my fifth graders to water color paint a response to one of our stories, become someone who is skeptical of the value of art? There is no gaurantee that this new school will give me teacher who will do the things I found so lacking in last years experience, and there is no guarantee that the creativity that is encouraged at their current school will be as treasured at the new school.

I had always thought that the biggest impact in a students school experience was the teacher, but what of school culture? The current school has a "we're so glad you're here" vibe about it. This new school seems to be, "we can't wait to grow you!" but what if my kids would grow just fine because I am so completely unnerved about them possibly not doing quality work? am I forcing them to sacrifice comfort and fun and creativity because I think I know better than them?

--Finally, did I mention that I loved school. I always loved school. I can recall nearly every teacher I had and usually a funny anecdote or memorable experience I had with them. I Loved my elementary school, and the distinct love I felt there, I even wanted Miss Gollub to adopt me.  But my elementary experience had everything. Paint, sculpture, papier mache, throwing of pots, plays, performances, music, xylophones, recorders, soccer, flag football, swings, and when I told mrs. Brusin on the first day of Kindergarten that I didn't need to do this phonics workbook because I could already read, she handed me  a first grade textbook.

How do I accomplish this for my own kids. Who have been reading HArry Potter this week?

Monday, July 18, 2011


We served Lemondade in The Shade to our congregation after worship this week. This is what we looked like. 
Do you think that someday my kids will be less than enthusiastic about color coordinating? Also.. you can't see it so well here.. but my skirt is really cute, I cut it down from a dress that didn't fit anymore because I've been exercising.

see.. cute huh?
The kids were in a really great spirit on Sunday and played remarkably well together all day. Cubby and Miss H were very helpful as we kept the 2/3 nursery. Here they are playing "What time is it Mr. Fox" and Lil Bit is playing the fox. Her favorite time is 8 o'clock.. whereas Little Daddy almost always says "Midnight!" He loves the hunt!

We have been wrestling with a big decision and passing the summer away crafting and sewing and painting, and swimming.  The Swim season is almost at a close, and I haven't snapped that many pool shots yet! Little Daddy is really working on his "free-style" it's a loose interpretation but it's coming, and Miss H and Cubby have really improved over last season. It is so amazing to me to watch them swim as actual stroke swimming is not something I have ever mastered, or been instructed in.  One of the lifeguards at our pool has offered to teach me, and I fully intend to take him up on it, just as soon as Lil Bit is feeling better.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Summer Fun!!---

It is summertime!! Which means Hours upon hours of togetherness around here! (Today we spent 6 hours pulling weeds) Maybe it was three.. but it felt like six. And you know that saying about many hands making light work.. some times.. many hands just means lots of work. The goodnews is that Miss H can work the pruners like a pro.. the bad news is THERE ARE STILL MORE WEEDS! AND TRIMMING AND CUTTING.. and also.. I can practically hear it growing out there right now!!
Should we ever move (which I'm obviously hoping is never) I think I want a smaller yard.

Some other things we have been up to..

Blueberry Picking..

(I also bought some local honey!)

Hiking... we are totally becoming outdoorsy I am even thinking of camping MAYBE

also a nice man taught Cubby how to light a match and start a charcoal grill. Something he will need to know for his new outdoorsy self.

We had the 4th of July.. which I almost forgot to document.. IT WAS SO HOT!! I spent most of the day in the pool where I couldn't really take pictures because I value our camera. Here's the kids and the Mr. He's been working out... can you tell? He really does a lot of work on his Hot Abs.

Here the kids are all comparing their hauls on the Money Dive.. which is the HIGHLIGHT of their fourth. I was sad we had to leave before the greased watermelon dive because I do think that one is hilarious.. but not sad to miss someone passing out during the underwater swim.

The Mr. did not get a picture of me participating in the "biggest splash" which I was shocked to find I did not win. Miss H did win the best trick.. Cubby had an unfortunate choke in mid air and didn't win. Which is too bad.. he does a great front flip, and can do a great back flip, although you really have to bribe him to get him to show it off.

There was a huge rainstorm... but it cleared up and we went to Lewisville to see the fire works.
I got a little grumpy at this point, because we couldn't get to our friends because of traffic, and there was a tree in the way of 25% of the fireworks, and also.. I really think the best place to watch fireworks is down on the beach at the end of Huntington St (tower 9) in CALIFORNIA. I am sadly reminded of this everytime I try to watch fireworks somewhere else.
Also.. we had Customer Appreciation day at Chick-Fil-A.. if you go bovine.. you dine FOR FREE.I told the kids to make their own costumes. They did great. I love Chick-Fil-A

My Former Athlete, and one of my favorite girls Sydney.. competed for the Youth Team USA and placed 8th. In France.. with her best jump of 4M. How awesome is she?

And.. tonight we watched Kung Fu Panda at BB&T ballpark.. I let the kids get their own candy and soda from the Dollar store.

The MR. and I smooshed our heads together for a photo.. Cuz we're still awesome.

and on the way out.. THEY GAVE US ALL BATS!!!

We've also been crafting and sewing and painting and we went to the theatre and we have a HUGE decision to make/finalize/discuss that I will tell you all about when I have my head around it.

Also.. I am having some sort of problem with blogger which is that it will not upload my pictures quickly AT ALL and also is making me select them one at a time. This makes me cringe.. so these are all small and low res because I had to image copy them from flickr.. which is not ideal i don't think. I will work on this. soon.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Wedded Bliss

Today.. the Mr. and I celebrate TEN years of wedded bliss. It has been an awesome journey so far, lots of laughing, a little tears, some sickness an abundance of health, and a gaggle of children. We have struggled on some fronts and thrived in others and somehow we have found a balance... I love the man I married more today than ten years ago, differently, more completely and with a kind of gratitude I didn't know existed until I realized how flawed I am.

He is a great partner, a witty friend and a great masseuse. He makes me laugh and think.. there is no one I would rather be consistently outnumbered with.

Here is a little slide show.. of the 17,493 photos we have on the computer and the two shoe boxes of predigital photos we have.. there are 50 photos we are both in. So here is a little history of our wedded bliss through those select photos. I took the liberty of not scanning in the ones from college where we are dressed for "sketch" parties, or obviously intoxicated... because this is a family show.. and I will say that didn't leave much evidence from the first 4 years of our "romance". So you will just have to imagine how awesome looking we were at that point. My advice would be that our awesomeness would be the inverse of our visible exhaustion in the post baby stage.. as in the older we get the more awesome we were.. and all that jazz. Happy Anniversary MR.

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

We've been in the mountains..

We've lived very near to the mountains FOREVER but we haven't spent any time there really. We took a trip with the Mr.'s Family for almost a week at a house on Sugar Mountain. 
AWESOME!!  It was so incredible.. even the day it poured rain as we rafted down the Watagua River. 
 The Mr. Got some new Sunglasses for father's day.
 Have you met the newest addition yet?
 In the mountains.. on a walk.
 looking for bears
 "Cheers" with Papa...
 it's grape juice... in case you were worried. The kids and Mimi were quite concerned I was letting Lil Bit drink all my WINE.
 free paddle boats (Which I would call Canoes) This was a nervewracking experience to be in the canoe with a bunch of wiggly kids and an expensive camera.
 walking on the dock.

 Hiking Linville Falls

 up up up to the top...

 reading on the deck...
 smore's... (all the really good smore's pictures are on Mimi's camera, because I was handed the wrong one.. in all the smore's flurry I could hardly put it down and switch!)
 Gem mining (Have you done this ever?) you pretty much wash and sort rocks and it was very interesting for people of all ages.

 see who is more interested here.. it's hard to telll..
 Little Daddy's Haul... now we need a rock tumbler.
exploring a feldspar mine (not as interesting as a gold mine.. but you know.. still neat)

There's even more.. this is just a teaser.. not to mention all the fun we didn't catch with the camera. Like Karaoke..Baby Jack tunneling through the coffee table... Mellow Mushroom..
on the way out we hit the tanger outlets... and MAN oh MAn did we score at the gymboree!! I also made out like a bandit at LOFT. I love that place.

Swim Meet Tomorrow! Miss H is still not asleep so I'm thinking it will be a disaster for her.