Friday, September 30, 2011

Student of the Month


I used to be so jealous of those moms that have a row of Student of the Month stickers on the back of their car. Well, it seems we are on our way to a row of stickers! William was the Student of the Month for the month of September for demonstrating Responsibility. His teacher said that normally she just picks a student because it kindergarten children cannot really grasp the character traits and demonstrate them, but that wasn't the case with William this year. And I believe her. For as busy and agressive and passionate he is. He is also responsible and helpful and considerate. I guess I have a hard time seeing that part of him because he spends most of his time moving. Its hard to see through the busyness and see the well-mannered child that he is. I certainly am thankful for the teachers in his life that give me the opportunity to see another side of him.
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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Paternity Leave in the Beginning

I put my foot down. I told Caskey he had to take paternity leave this month. I know, I sound like an evil demanding wife, but I had a good reason. I promise. When Lainy Ann was born Caskey was around a lot. I was able to take nearly 8 weeks of maternity leave because of my vacation schedule. Let me tell you, I used those 8 weeks. I was a first time mom. Caskey was going to school for his undergraduate degree at LMU, so although he was busy, his schedule was pretty flexible and allowed for a lot of 2:1 parenting. Add to that a doting grandma, aunt and uncle, well, we had plenty of help. When Connor and William (and the twins) were born, Caskey was working for LMU as a professor and Lab Manager. LMU was a very family friendly employer and felt that he should spend as much time as he could at home as long as his job got done. He was able to do a great deal of work from home and occasionally go down to LMU late at night after we had already gone to bed. They were also very accommodating to have the family tag along and bother him at work. Then when Alexander was born I was REALLY spoiled. Caskey took a full 6 weeks paternity leave and then gave 2 weeks notice. He was home forever. It was wonderful (and drove me a little crazy too). So when Eleanor was born I was expecting similar reinforcements. But instead he went to San Francisco when Eleanor was 2 weeks old. It was hard. It has continued to be hard for the last 10 months. Between activities for 4 children, staying home all summer, and long days, well, its been exhausting. Caskey has been working extra hard at work too as a Noogler. My mom and Tom pitch in from time to time, but its really rough doing the daily routine from 6 am to 8:30 pm (including bedtime) alone 5 days a week. Unfortunately, Caskey said to me "um, if I am going to take my paternity leave (7 weeks at 100% pay) I need to do it before Eleanor turns one." Well, he didn't have to tell me twice. I looked at the calendar, counted up all the important days; birthdays and Halloween and booked his paternity leave for the whole month of October. All of my friends have wished me luck. They say, "You will either love it or hate it." Here is to hoping I will love it.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

22 Belt Loops in 12 months

Last week was our first pack meeting of the new year. It was so strange to be sitting in the wolf section and seeing all the new tigers; young and excited and confused. I remember sitting there last year. Everyone seemed to know what was going on, the difference between a loop, patch and pin. They all raised their hand in the air when the cub master said, "Let's give him a big hand." (Get it, a 'hand' instead of applause. Har Har) This year sitting with the wolves, greeting everyone we hadn't seen over the long summer, hearing about popcorn sales and rocket day. It was all familiar. Connor worked hard over the summer and received 11 new belt loops, 4 pins and 3 patches, more than any other person in the pack. In 12 months he has earned 22 belt loops, 6 pins and another half dozen patches. I am so proud of all he has learned in the last year. And I am a little worried as to where we will put all the new belt loops.

Two Weeks

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Two weeks. It has been two weeks since Eleanor started crawling forward. She was doing this kind of shuffle backwards that always ended with her sitting on her bottom in the seated position. But when my dad and his family were visiting two weeks ago, (after she stopped crying hysterically at his bearded face) she crawled across the kitchen floor towards me. I was so glad that my dad and step-mom were here to witness it. Since they live in a different state they don't get to be around much for the 'firsts'.

In those two weeks Eleanor has become very adventurous. She has discovered the other rooms in the house and how much fun the boys room is. She has learned to pull to a standing position, cruise around the furniture and now she is starting to let go while she stands. I can't believe we went from crawling to standing unassisted in two short weeks.

But she still won't say mama . . . .

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Daddy and his Princess

Caskey and Eleanor were sitting on the couch and Eleanor started "asking" for some of his chips, in her "ah! ah!" yell that she does. He was eating those yucky spicy chips; dijon mustard flavored. Yuck! He allowed her one chip because our kids are "spicy" he said. I figured one lick and that chip would come right back out of her mouth. So I watched closely. And it was gone. Eleanor needed another. "Ah! Ah!" with a point of the finger. This continued for a few minutes. He finally cut her off and said, "no more". I was prepared with a bit of sandwich to distract her.

But when Daddy said 'no' her world came crashing down. In slow motion she got the big eyes and the big frown and burst into full on tears! I couldn't believe it. I was so surprised that she is now understanding language and not getting what she wants.

But Caskey surprised me even more after that. He immediately rushed to her aid and said, "Don't cry, Princess" and gave her another chip. Daddy's are such softies with their daughters.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Cooking Frogs

A few years ago I was infuriated that there was no homework the first few weeks of school. If there was homework it seemed to be review from the first semester of the previous grade. Of course I would extrapolate that to mean that the entire year would be underachieving. I would work myself up into a tizzy about how my child wasn't going to be challenged and that the year was going to be awful. I would rant and rave about our society and education today. I would hunt down private schools, peruse homeschooling websites and generally drive everyone around me crazy. One year I ended up in the principal's office in tears.

I have relaxed over the years. Just a little. For a few reasons; I realized I was just causing myself a lot of stress and there was truly nothing to be done. The second reason is the big one. Every single June I have looked back on the entire year and been happy with my child's education and experience, but I also remembered how worried I was in September. So I decided to just trust these teachers.

This year I am doing much better. I have taken advantage of the first few weeks of school by hanging onto a little bit of summer; video games and outings. We are getting into our routine slowly. I have given the kids 'my homework' to make sure they are still being challenged. Its been an enjoyable few weeks. Fourth grade is quite a bit more challenging and Lainy Ann has had some work, but still pretty minor so we have been focusing on getting school supplies and just getting into the swing of things.

But I read a blog about cooking frogs and how this homeschool mother takes that approach when she eases back into the school year. When you cook frogs you put the frog in room temperature water and slowly turn up the heat. If you put the frog into boiling water then the frogs will simply jump out. This mother teachers school in much the same way. She introduces a few subjects at a time over a three-week period. It occurred to me, that is exactly what my children's teachers are doing. They are all cooking frogs.

Happy 35th!


Daddy turned 35 a few weeks ago. He has been pretty busy with work so we drove down to Google to have lunch and cake with him. The kids were so cute. The night before they all 'helped' with decorating the cake. Connor kept checking my work and giving me suggestions. The morning of daddy's birthday the kids all dressed in 'Googley' colors. They wanted to be festive for him.

I love this picture because I think it really captures our family. Lainy Ann in her fluffy tutu. She is up for any challenge as long as she can wear a frilly dress and bow. Connor in his astronaut shirt. He always tells me he will be an inventor one day. William in his monster shirt . . . . because . . . well, you know. Ellie covered in bows, ribbons and ric-rac and Alexander wearing a Formula One shirt that was handed down through all three boys.

Happy 35th Birthday, Caskey! I can't wait to start the next part of our adventure together.
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Sunday, September 4, 2011

Hands in the Air

Today was a regular day; church and chores. Nothing special planned. After church we decided to go out for breakfast. The oldest 2 kids wanted to ride in Grandma Lou's convertible. Poor William is struggling with being big now that he is in Kindergarten with the 'big kids'. So he cried until he got to ride with Grandma too, which meant that Alexander started crying.

I drove behind them as we headed to our next destination. I remember when my mother first got a convertible. I swore the kids wouldn't ride in it because it wasn't safe. I did a bit of research and a lot of relaxing and I sure am glad I did. All the kids were riding in the car with their arms up in the air like they were on a roller coaster. They were going down the hill, with the top down, with their hands in the air. They would wave at me and turn around with silly grins on their faces. Caskey would lovingly say, "our kids are such idiots". I'm glad the kids can have so much fun on a simple trip down the hill.

140 characters

I had a wonderful day. We started off the morning at church, went out for my favorite breakfast, spent the afternoon crafting Lego invites with Grandma (Happy almost 7th birthday, Connor) and we spent the evening with our closest friends having pizza and enjoying a summer rain storm. We got home late and sat in the driveway and watched the sky for lightening, something we rarely see in California. Tomorrow is supposed to be another day filled with fun. My life is truly blessed. I have more blessings than some people can ever hope for.

So, why then, does a simple announcement (on Facebook) shock me, like a slap in the face. There is no reason this should bother me. This announcement came from someone I knew in high school, someone I barely knew, someone I haven't seen in over 15 years. We have nothing in common, in fact, I'm not sure why we are even Facebook friends. I wish now that we weren't.

It was announced that in 7 months he will be having quadruplets. Let me tell you a little secret: while this news sounds very exciting and wonderful to be expecting multiples, it is not. John and Kate and Octomom have made multiple births a desired thing. They are not a blessing, they are worrisome. The human body was not designed to carry more than one child. In fact, even having a twin pregnancy is worrisome. But the media has portrayed multiple births as something to strive for, something wonderful and easy and carefree.

When this person announced their good news all I could think is, "maybe". I know there are no "for sures" when it comes to pregnancy. Any one who has experienced a miscarriage will tell you that. But someone who has experienced a twin-loss (or more) will tell you that multiples aren't 'for sure' either. And even if (big IF) the babies are born, the chances that they have life-long medical problems are high.

So I stopped. I stopped feeling angry and sad (well, not right away). I started to pray. I prayed that this woman who I have never met will never feel the pain I felt. I prayed that she will not hold her living daughter and grieve over the babies she has lost. I pray that she will feel God by her side as she undergoes a stressful and complicated pregnancy. And I pray I have the strength to not relive the death of my twins through the celebration, worry, journey she will embark over the next several months.

I want to live for my five living children. I don't want to be shocked and surprised and have my breath taken away when the reality of twins/multiples sneaks up on me. I should be spending my night remembering the fun that was had today. Not crying about what I have lost and the scary road ahead for this woman. Or the jealousy I will experience if she beats the odds and gives birth to 4 completely healthy full-term babies.

6 years. You would think after 6 years something so minor, just 140 characters, couldn't be so jarring.