Thursday, August 30, 2007

Joy And The Dilly Bar

Dylan (Dilly Bar) and Olivia (Joy) enjoying a leisurely canoe ride together Yesterday we had the joy of going to the State Fair (UGGH!). Oh, the things we put ourselves through for our children's happiness. We did however get to see one of our favorite little "cousins" Dylan, and spend some time with him. It was so adorable to watch him and Olivia go on all the little kiddies rides together .
If you're wondering about the bandage on Olivia's head and her newly cropped bangs, well, that was a whole other blog post in itself, but I was too embarassed to post it. I'll give you a hint: Olivia climbed up on the kitchen counter and tried to blow out candles I had lit. I know, I know, I feel horrible. But she is OK!
The big kids had a blast too!This was the first year Daniel and Sarah were able to go on the "big kid" rides. And they were very brave!
Jon is having a little too much fun on the kiddie swings with Olivia (actually, I think I just told him this was the last ride and it was time to go)
One last funny "fair moment":
This is for you Angela!!!A little history for those of you who are wondering "what in the world?"
These are pictures of Darrin and I at the fair back in 6th and 7th grade.
Darrin is Jon's cousin, and we were good friends and went to school together 6th through 12th grade.

I met Darrin's cousin, Jon, my senior year and fell head over heels!
Darrin met Jon's good friend and long-time classmate, Angela, his senior year. And it was love at first sight!

Jon and Liz were married in 1997
Darrin and Angela were married in 1998

That adorable little Dylan up above is Darrin and Angela's little guy
And of course that sweet little girl with the burned off hair belongs to Jon and I!

There you have it!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Painful Decision

This is even difficult for me to type.....In eight days Daniel and Sarah will go to public school. This is one of the hardest decisions I have ever made. In fact, up until today I have been wavering back and forth, not committing myself to this decision. But today, it is set in stone. I turned in their registration papers, their grades from the last four years of home school, achievement test scores, immunization records, and so on. Tomorrow we will do something we have never done before, go school shopping. I have to say, I feel.....well, sad. I have loved every day of homeschooling my kids (well not every day, but most days). It has been a true blessing, and I'm really having a hard time moving forward with this decision. The decision to home school in the first place came so easily, so naturally. Daniel had attended a wonderful private pre-school and kindergarten. During Christmas break of kindergarten, we had such a special time together. It felt so good to have him home with me again for the entire day. Daniel, Sarah and I baked Christmas cookies and made cards and ornaments for friends. They had so much fun getting everything ready for Christmas (my favorite time of year). As Christmas break was winding down, my sweet little five year old said, "mom, do I have to go back to school? Why can't I just stay home with you?" Well of course I told him yes, you do have to go back to school. But it was the second part of his question that kept bothering me. Why can't he stay home with me? Why are we pushing him out the door when he just wants to be with his mom and dad? What is wrong with a child wanting to spend more time with his parents? We should be embracing that. We need to be teaching him all we can while he is teachable and wants to learn from us, and while he still wants to be around us. Towards the end of kindergarten Jon and I were faced with a dilemma, his teacher recommended Daniel repeat kindergarten. And we totally agreed. Daniel was a late bloomer, a little immature for his age, and had a hard time paying attention for long periods of time. I had spent a lot of time volunteering in his class, and I saw how maturity-wise he wasn't ready for first grade, but academically he was fine. So, we made the decision to home school him for first grade. That way he could move forward academically, and just mature socially in his own time. Now, I am not your typical home school mom. First of all , I do wear make-up and I do not wear a fanny pack. Second, I have NO friends who home school. In fact, every one around me thought I was crazy. Instead of being met with support and encouragement, I was met with remarks like, "hmmm, that's interesting" or "do you have experience with childhood education?" or "how will your child socialize?" "Is that legal?" and even "children need to be in public school to be a witness and a light" and many other critical comments and questions. It's funny how when you send your little six year old off to school for 7 hours a day, no one asks you about the qualifications of his teacher or what curriculum they will be using, or why you made that decision. It's just the norm, kids go to school, and no one questions it. But when you step outside the norm, everyone has an opinion to offer. Well, no one knows a child better then his mother. I knew exactly how Daniel learned and the best ways he processed information. The rest is history, Daniel took off academically and benefited greatly from the one on one teaching. And two years later, Sarah joined our little family school, and it was completely wonderful. OK, I'm tearing up right now. The best part of the last four years was the amount of time we had together. There was no mad rush in the morning to get out the door. We usually would have a big breakfast and stay in our PJ's for quite a while. The kids would have time to read their Bibles before we started school. I loved the winters, when it was dark and rainy outside, the kids would lay on a blanket by the fire and do their work. In the spring, we would go outside and do our school work in the sun. In the fall, we would go to the pumpkin patch in the middle of a week day, and have the whole place to ourselves. Same with Omsi, The Gilbert House and Riverfront Park. There's nobody there during the week! Everyone's in school, it's great! We would go skiing on a week day, or go to the coast for a few days in the middle of the week, of course taking our school work with us. There was always time for conversation. Daniel is now ten, and in the past five years, I have been asked many startling questions, some where I tried not to let him see the panic on my face when he asked them. But you know what, he would have never been able to ask me those questions if he had been in school all day. There were so many teachable moments and meaningful conversations, and the three of us have truly bonded. I found it sad when I would hear my friends say they didn't know what to do with their kids in the summer, because they weren't used to having them home all day, every day. But at the same time I found myself envying my neighbor as I watched her leave at 8:30 am with her kids for school, and return home in a few minutes all by herself. What might that be like I would wonder. Spending all day at home by yourself? Oh the places I could go, the things I could do and accomplish! But I knew, for my kids (I don't think it's right for everyone), homeschooling was the best thing for them. I saw the benefits daily, and it was worth the sacrifice of my own social freedom. I've never had to get use to not having my kids around. They have always been with me, at the grocery store, the post office, the doctor's office, Macy's shoe department, Nordstrom's shoe department, Target, Starbuck's......wherever I go, they go. I am going to miss Daniel and Sarah come September 4th. I will miss teaching them and watching them learn. I will miss our leisurely mornings, as I know we have many hectic ones ahead. But it was a wonderful season, and I am struggling emotionally that it is ending. I wish there was some way we could go a few more years, but for many complicated reasons, we can not. My dear sister-n-law gave me some great advice, in a nutshell: "When you make a decision that's hard, you hash out the pros and cons, and ultimately base your decision on logic and what makes the most sense (and of course much prayer). But the emotions don't always follow. Give yourself time for the emotions to come around. If they don't, and your still struggling, the kids are struggling, every one's miserable, then change it. You can always change your decision again. Do what's best for your family." So we're off! The winds of change are blowing. As of today, Jon is officially a solo officer (today is his first day on his own, without a training officer!!!), the kids are enrolled in public school, and I am looking for a part-time day job so I can finally quit the restaurant business after ten years of serving late into the night. We'll see where this road takes us! Thank you to anyone who read this rambling. I think I therapeutically wrote it for myself more than anything. May God bless you and your family, and may you continue to seek out His plan for your lives, never settling for complacency. And let Him be the One who directs your paths.

Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight
~Proverbs 3:5,6

Art Class
P.E. ClassMusic Class
Shop Class
Cooking ClassRecess

Recess in Sunriver
Recess In The Hot Tub At The Beach

First Grade Field Trip To Alaska With Dad
Field Trip To The StablesWhat a wonderful, precious time we had being home all together. I love this picture of Daniel and Olivia. I think about what it would have been like had Daniel and Sarah not been home schooled for Olivia's first two years. They would have missed out on so much. They all three have grown so close, and I'm just so thankful we were all able to spend so much time together, especially while they were little. Daniel will now be a strapping 5th grader, and Sarah a sweet and sassy 3rd grader!

Here We Go!!!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Wishful Fishing

Yesterday, we headed over to our favorite fishing spot. We thought we were pretty smart when we arrived at 6:00 pm. We were sure we were going to catch some hungry fish at their dinner time. We weren't leaving until dark, so surely that would give us enough time to catch a few fat daddies. The river was so clear, and as we looked toward the bottom ,we could see these big monster trout just hanging out at the bottom, the kids were so excited! But for some reason, they just weren't going to bite. Maybe it was because Olivia was throwing big rocks into the water every five seconds, or maybe fish are actually extremely intelligent creatures, but needless to say we were all disappointed. But despite not catching any fish, we still had a wonderful time together as a family! It was such a peaceful evening, I love being outdoors with the kids. It feels so good to get out of the house and just relax. Olivia loved exploring and trying to catch waterbugs. And Daniel and Sarah had this giddy excitement, so sure that any minute they were going to feel a big tug on their line. Finally, when it started to get dark, Officer Garland informed us it was against the law to fish in the dark, and we better pack up or he was going to start issuing some citations. The fun, relaxing evening came to a close. And even though our cooler went home without any trout fillets, we were still glad we were able to give it a try!

Olivia loved putting her tootsies in the "bubbles"

What a beautiful place to enjoy with your family

9:00 pm, no fish, time to head home.....but still smiling

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Two of my favorite things

I have a long list of favorite things, but here are two of them:

Number One: My sweet little Olivia Joy, who put this ensemble together all by herself, and I just had to grab the camera. She truly is two going on twenty-two. She will pick out her dress for the day, then she goes to my closet and picks out her shoes, and then comes the necklace, bracelets, and whatever accessories she can find. And last but not least, her baby of the day. She loves to play mommy and take care of her baby, it's so precious!

Number Two: My beautiful, black, snakeskin print, 3 & 3/4 inch, BCBGirls peep toe pumps. They are truly breathtaking, a work of art.....irreplaceable. On my favorites list, they're right underneath my husband and kids. I fell in love with them in May, and a few days later they were mine. Our relationship is still going strong. We spend so much time together, like whenever I wear jeans, black pants, white pants, capris, dressy shorts, flare skirts, denim skirts, and any dress in my closet. We are a match made in heaven!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Sweat, Cheese-Puffs and Roses

Sometimes I am so disappointed in myself and my lack of self-control. It was late last night, Jon was working, and I diligently pulled myself off the couch and worked out on the elliptical. I sweated my jiggly glutes off for 40 minutes, burning 300 calories. Then instead of taking a shower and going to bed. I wandered out to the kitchen and pulled out the laptop. As I sat in front of the computer, THEY called to me....twisty cheese-puffs! My daughter had begged me to buy them for her sleepover the night before. Hmm.... 7 cheese puffs = 160 calories. "I'll just have three" were the fatal words I said to myself. One hour and over half the bag later, my workout completely wasted, I heard Jon trying to unlock the front door. Knowing he had his hands full, I went to the door to let him in. I was quite a beautiful sight to behold as I greeted him: Hair in a ponytail, bangs pulled back with Olivia's sparkly flower clips, mascara smeared around my eyes, stinking of sweat and body odor, and cheese puff crumbs around my mouth. He looked at me and gave me that big grin which still makes my heart pound, and then pulled out a dozen roses he had hiding behind his back. As I smiled in complete surprise, I could feel the cheese-puffs still in my mouth and stuck to my teeth......NICE!

Needless to say, I was very blessed by Jon's display of affection. It had been a very difficult and tiring week, and there is no sign of it lightening up any time soon. And sometimes I feel like I do so much for everyone else, and nobody appreciates it, or even notices. I feel like I'm nothing more then a maid, cook, activities director (not only for my own kids, but all the neighbor kids as well), and even a single mom at times. And just at the moment when the pitty party is in full swing and I'm wondering, "what's it all for anyway?" (and I want to ditch the kids and run off to Nordstrom's for the day with a credit card), my husband lets me know he does notice, and most of all, he appreciates what I do and loves me....sweat, cheese-puffs and all. Thanks Jon. It's the little things like that which keep me going. I folded the mountain of laundry today with renewed vigor. And when I cleaned the toilets, I felt loved and appreciated....thank you :)

Two are better than one.....For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion.
~Ecclesiastes 4:9,10