Family photo 2013

Family photo 2013

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

One Smart Boy

"I think that Thomas Jefferson having slaves is really dumb. Because he wrote The Declaration of Independence...." - Tyden Deutsch
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government.

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Great Debate

It happens every single year. Not an annual changing of the calendar goes by that our thoughts aren't graced with its tormenting presence.

It's The Talk that begins between my husband and I, then bleeds over into a Formal Dinnertime Conversation Topic with our youthful charges. It's the obsessive scrutinizing, the sleep depriving agonizing, the pros and the cons and the trade offs and the ups and the downs and research and the people we know who do and the people we know who do not and those we know who have at one time, but stopped and those we know who didn't always then started and those we know who do some and don't others. It's the flurry of conflicting viewpoints that collide, obliterating each of my individual brain cells into tiny bits of squishy grey mush. Oh wait - they were already...never mind.

It's The Great Homeschool Debate.  

Like lice on an Egyptian's head, it plagues me. Especially when times are tough. For instance, when my hunk o burnin handyman love opts to take some vacation time to completely gut and remodel a once 1/2 bath/powder room and transform it into a Grade A bathroom for our 4 growing-in-age-and-stink boys, with a shower! A shower that wasn't there before! Um...plumbing. Need I say more?

The man worked dawn to beyond dusk for 10 solid days, through 2 weekends and I tried to carry on per usual routine. I really did. The wee munchkins and I sat obediently at the table for school like we always do. We plowed forward through the banging and hammering and nailing and compressing and the dreadful mess strewn about the house because construction is, above all, untidy. (Have I ever properly expressed my undying affection for All Things Tidy?)

We pressed on though my poor wits had long ago reached their harried end. I was stressed. Ladies, do you hear me when I say that as much as I adore that useful groom of mine, I wouldn't have minded his copious talents being used elsewhere? Say, at his place of employment. Where he has his domain and I am The Unchallenged Queen of my Castle all the way up until 5:00 p.m. Not that he was trying to challenge me in any way. He was just here. All the time. Up in my BIZNESS. Trying to HELP when I became FLUSTERED by STEPPING into my REALM. Bless his sweet, helpful soul.

It didn't prove to be our finest adventure in homeschooling. It prompted the gut wrenching endeavor I face every year anyway, bathroom project or not. Would we all be better off if we place those naughty little buggars in school? Would I be better? Would they be better? 

It's something to really consider.

I tossed and turned and made inquiries and fretted long and hard over it, as I always do. My angel of a 13 year old darling daughter and I talked....and talked....and talked, weighed the options, discussed the opinions, thought it through to the best of our abilities until our heads were swirling ambivalent.

In the end, though no right or wrong answer would ever present itself clear as there is simply No Such Thing, I just could not get a sense of peace over the notion that school-away-from-home was the way for us to go at this particular juncture. The thought of it was, still, more than I could bear. It didn't fit with the longing of my heart and the desire of my bones to teach them and to learn with them and to be with my babes most of the hours of most of the days, through the thick and the thin of the mess and the chatter and the attitudes and the breakthroughs and the banging of the heads on the walls and the spontaneous laughter that erupts serving to deepen my crow's feet.  

Though next time, I will formally decree:

Dad's Home Project = Kid's School Vacation

Because really, who are we kidding? This is Mama's House.

Before:
After:

Dude's amazing. Seriously. I love him so much! 

Thursday, November 06, 2014

This is So Right Now

One of my kids' favorite activities is sitting around looking at blog books. They laugh at what they've said and done and they remember what they would have long ago forgotten. We recently received our 6th book for 2013. Six years of their lives, of our lives, of my thoughts, their thoughts, our words and deeds and joy and sorrow and bliss and triumph and challenge and victory and gain and loss, our grief, our elation, our struggle and our rising up again, our memories are tied up within the pages of those books. To the Deutsch people, their value is beyond measure.  

So when someone asserts, blogging about your every day existence and what your children are doing is so 2008. Well, goshI really can't help but not care. Current and relevant and interesting to the general population just doesn't matter to me all that much. Because this? What is happening in our every day reality - all of it - the ups and the downs and the sublime and the tearful and the ordinary and the memorable and the forgetable, it is the stuff life on this earth we share together is made of. It's true what they say, the little things truly are the big things. They account for the vast majority of every single portion of this, our exquisite human experience. The mountain top peaks are rare, the valleys are only visited, but the grassy hills and the meadows and the flat, golden prairies, that's where most of life is made to be experienced. 

Right in the rumpled middle.

Where I have to force myself to take a beat to stop cold in my hectic tracks and slow the pace and breathe deeply and blink my lids and open my eyes and carefully see the enormous beauty in the every single day I am still, temporarily, alive. Otherwise, I might miss my very own wonderous lot as it passes me by. 
  
Tyden on last night's date with dad and mom ~ Panda Express.
The incomparable big grandma and grandpa ~ Halloween 2014
The whole crew on what might be the last night they all trick or treat together.
Flint and Meadow on a Family Date Night in Oct.
Notes left for me to find when I returned home from a night out with girlfriends.
The night my husband grew into a paternal giant in his wife's eyes.
When he, spur of the moment, offered to sleep out in the little house with his boy who was scared.
The girl with the frilly skirt and striped knee high socks on the motor bike with her dad.
The 11 year old boy
The night we went to visit grandma JJ at her work.
The girl flanked by the poodles.
Perhaps the only hug these two have ever shared. 
His 10th birthday.
The parents, that day at the penny arcade when mom's grief was raw, 
but the boy's birthday was celebrated.
The baby's first day of first grade at school for homeschoolers.
That time we visited dear, old friends in their new house.

When she made rose pens out of tape with her friends for her 13th birthday.
The one and only time Meadow asked to take her mom's picture, because she had a new phone.
The year all the pumpkins we carved were homegrown.
When the siblings worked together to build a fortress.
That time they asked me to take their picture, so I did.
The day the boy turned 9.

Now, go ahead.
Tell me this isn't so, completely relevant....

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Good Day Criteria and The Oregon Trail

Reading today about pioneers moving west on The Oregon Trail, we were all awed by the fact that amid the grueling conditions involved in covering miles and miles each day on foot, preparing every meal from scratch over an open fire, camping out for months on end, protecting all owned possessions day and night, caring for animals and small children in a less than ideal environment, and constant exposure to the unpredictable elements, it was considered a good day if:

There were no rivers to ford, there were no mountains to cross, the land still offered water to drink, no one was hurt, no one became sick, no animals were lost. 

Goodness. Gracious. Goodnessgracious. 

It made us think of how much we take for granted and how little it takes for us to consider our very good days sullied. 

The lines were long at Wal~Mart where I picked up a cart full of food I didn't have to plant, grow, grind, process, or butcher. (I must have waited a half hour!)

The DVR didn't record my favorite t.v. show.

The Broncos lost to the Patriots. Again. 

The Broncos will probably lose to the Patriots. Again. 

My brother destroyed my lego house.

Our ice maker broke. We have to make ice now. In trays

My sister stole a piece of my Halloween candy. 

My husband had to turn the water off as he worked on the plumbing in our newly renovated bathroom. For like, an HOUR! 

So, we made lists. Of what our criteria for a good day are. Or maybe what they should be. If we were grateful for the simple things and didn't expect quite so much.

Flint: When I don't fight with my brothers. When I make a new lego ship. When I finish a chapter book. When we get books to read. When I finish my school work. When people throw their trash away. When mom cooks. (Um, always, my friend. Pretty much always. Mom is cooking alllllll the days!) When someone does not get sick. When we get food to eat. (As opposed to when we don't get food to eat.) When we get to play outside.
Meadow: When there is not a bunch of fighting. When it is warm outside. When the house is not a big mess. When most people are in a good mood. When dad is home. (p.s. We do still have a good day without him.) When mom sings. (p.s. She is great at it.) (That's my girl!) When I do well in school. If it is cold when we all sit in front of the fire and play games or read. When we all watch a movie as a family. When I have a pretty hair style from Jayla. 
Tyden: A good dinner. No one dies. I have a good school day. I don't get in trouble. I don't get injured. Neither does anyone else. Jedi does not pee. (He holds it all day!) Nothing breaks. (Never happens! 4 boys!) The weather is good. I get educated. 
Jayla: No one's sick. You learned something. You ate and drank. You saw your family. Everyone's safe. The house is pretty clean. You got exercise. You kept mom happy. (My little ray of codependent sunshine!) Everyone gets along. You slept well. 
Stryder: That mom has a good day. Dad has a good day. No one breaks a bone. Our dogs don't run away. I make mom happy. That lava doesn't fall on us. That the house doesn't start on fire. None of us start on fire. Dad finishes his project. Mom doesn't cut herself. 
Onyx: No one died. School went well. We had three meals plus snacks. We got to go outside. We have clothes to wear. (Which is in direct opposition to what we call Naked Days.) We have plenty of water. We have books to read. We have a house to live in. We have coats to wear. We have pencils and paper. 

Dad working on the new boys' bathroom renovation which he will, by no means, finish today. He is home. (Good day!) He won't complete his project. (Bad day!)

Friday, October 31, 2014

She Doesn't Get it From Me.

Hosting isn't on my list of top ten most treasured activities. Party planning is definitely not my passion.  My go-to-comfort-level motto less is more doesn't exactly shout, "LET ME PLAN A GINORMOUS SHIN DIG!" In a pinch, I can pull through. But afterward I'm altogether wasted, and long weekends on remote islands sipping daiquiris are required for my introverted nerves to properly recoup. My Pinterest boards sit woefully neglected and my craft supplies remain tidy in their cabinet year after year begging to be transformed into some adorable thing to which I firmly reply, "Sorry, but um, no."

Not.     Gonna.     Happen. 

So, when I say she dosen't get it from me, it's no joke. 

Because oh, my sweet, darling girl, Jayla. She spent days worth of hours planing and preparing and Pinteresting for a party she wanted to throw for our family and her grandparents. The girl worked her tail off for a month and asked to purchase NOthing, except for food. All decorations were handmade and dutifully slaved over with items found around the house.

It was such a special time enjoying the fruits of 13 year old angel of a girl's labor. Seriously. That one is a keeper. 

I was too busy and distracted helping her to pull out my real camera and get some quality pictures, but how I wish I had! Maybe she'll do it again next year, just for me to photograph. How 'bout it Jayla? 

There were decorations: 
And kids...
And parents...
And a piƱata made out of a cereal box and tape with glow sticks in it for tonight's trick or treating festivities...
And a game of Pin the Spider on the Web...
And candy corn Boo Bingo with made by hand cards...
and broomstick goodie bags full of loot...
and mummy hot dogs...
and jack-o-lantern cheeseburgers...
and eyeball eggs...
and pumpkin oranges and ghost bananas...
and happy consumers...
and tombstone brownies and pumpkin, skeleton and mummy frosted sugar cookies that I forgot to photograph!

And it was a grand time of memory making and celebrating...our girl who loves to party.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Worry not, dear homeschool mom.

Yesterday, Jayla found a notebook of hers from way back in the day when she was just a sugary little gumdrop of a button nosed thing. Oh my shimmering stars. We laughed and laughed flipping through the pages of her Most Important Notes and Serious Drawings. Then my heart strings tugged and pulled and squeezed and ached at the small girl she once was, the one time has mercilessly ushered away, the one I have to work hard to conjure up in my mind's eye now. It was one of those genuine laughter through the tears type of moments. 

I mean. Those HEARTS. Peep those hearts. The shape, the scribbley coloring, the shape! And then the shape. It's all just too much. I {heart} the shape of her hearts! 
And what we have here is a perfectly healthy representation of the family unit at the time. Hairless Jayla in the middle, her identical sized bald Mom to her right, and a much smaller version of chrome dome Dad on her left. Then, her wee little brothers, Onyx, Tyden and Stryder are floating, insulated by hearts in space like sibling satellites waiting to be invited into The Big Lumpy Heart Where The Primary Family People Reside. (((((ALL))))) the therapists would agree, this girl had it figured out.  
Then there is a blank page 20, not to be confused with page 02. 
I can tell because it's right before 21. 
Here she was talking "ol obout Nana" in 2009...
...just before olso mentioning ol about Grandpa.
And on page 26, a tribute to her brother Stryder who is her best fren. Hee wots to sllepeg in her bed. She likes snofllarse. And again, Stryder is her Dest frend. Oh, how she LOVES her blakites. Plus, she likes to tok to her Dest frend, which we've established is Stryder....her dest frend.  
When I look at her now, I see such a smart, articulate, eloquent, sharp witted, talented, expressive, HIGHLY capable girl who is steadily working her way toward becoming my peer and I think to myself I needn't have worried myself so much when I was a younger home educator about correcting her p's and q's, dotting all her i's and crossing every one of her t's. She was getting there. In time. With exposure and practice and ample room for freedom of expression she has developed into a fine young woman whose broad intelligence shines. And when all else fails, the girl can rock a spell check like nobody's business.  
So these days, when my 6 year old dolly girl writes me a note like this, I'm learning to not fret over it because Clover, you ore the best too. And I also love you. Yes, baby. I will rede to you...
A spotted dog with flight ears. Perfection.  

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