Tuesday, October 27

Finding my rhythm

We've been working our way through a stomach bug with at least two people down with it since Thursday. Symptoms seem to last about five days or so but no fever. Jake and Aliza currently have it. McKay stayed home yesterday saying he had a belly ache but it turned out that was more because he'd procrastinated some big homework assignments. Of course, he really felt bad when it dawned on him during FHE that they still needed to be done. Ugh. It was 10pm before we got to bed but Ryan helped him most until stuck on the German. Then we switched and he did dinner dishes while I helped with homework. We'd just fallen asleep around 11 when Aliza woke up soaked in puke and screaming. Fun times. She screamed through being cleaned up and for another half hour. I swapped Morgan beds thinking it'd be a long night. Aliza finally zonked out at 1. Morning came too early today again.

Homeschooling Morgan is going really well for her and I'm enjoying it. I can literally pull out our materials and start our school time, it's so nicely scripted. I've cut out co-ops from our schedule to give us more down time at home because it's already hard enough to get to chores and do my German class. It has been fun to focus on Morgan and see her improvement over the first month of doing this. She craves play time when the older boys get home and that's not first on their list so there's some common struggles there. Two or three times a week I have deliberate play times set up for her. A gal in the ward has a two hour structured get together from 12-2 where we all bring our own lunch and eat together, kids play, we do a game and craft and then it's time to go home. Wednesdays we go to a park or to the gym and check out balls to play with during and after Easton's guitar lesson. Thursdays there's an afternoon homeschooler playgroup we hit now and then. Some kids in the neighborhood have started gathering in a culdesac and so I'll send McKay and Morgan down to join them once a week. I feel like she's getting healthy socialization but once a week she'll say she does miss friends. For her birthday we had her friend spend the night while the boys were at a Scout campout. That little girl was not used to having a teething baby around making noise! It was interesting to see Morgan react to her and be confident in who she was. As we got ready for Morgan's soccer game, this little girl wouldn't dare wear a kitty ear head band Morgan offered as they were getting ready. It's Morgan's favorite right now. The friend said people would laugh at her so she would not wear it. Morgan said, "I like it and I wear it a lot. Lots of people like it." I was so proud of her :) Comfort and personal likes still rule her style for now. It'll change soon enough I'm sure but it's kinda nice to know we can preserve it a bit longer this year at least.

Jake's really enjoying German kindergarten, but him being sick right now is nice to have a break from getting us all out the door in the morning. I love his kindergarten and have heard it is the best one in our town and believe it! I hope I can get better at sitting down with him a few times a week to practice preschool things. He's rather reluctant unless we're being silly together doing it. He gets easily frustrated when his hand doesn't produce what his mind wants too on paper. His adorable enthusiasm and joy over simple things keep Ryan and I laughing and loving him at this age.

McKay is going to be tested for delays in his reading and language use. He's getting behind again and starting to feel overwhelmed with the struggle to do his work. Kids his age are experimenting with crude language and humor and so we're having conversations about that lately. He's really enjoying his after school programs -- Green Team (projects taking care of the school's rabbit right now), piano lessons, and MathQuest.

Easton seems to be doing well in his schooling and with friends. He likes doing the after school homework club to get homework done and a couple of his classmates are in there with him so sometimes they collaborate. I recently sat through a lecture on how the Int'l Baccalaureate program does their grades and it was so thorough and impressive but I felt bad for the teachers. It requires a lot of feedback from them and everything is done online which is great for parents to be able to check. He invited a buddy to Scouts last week for first aid certification. This week he's hoping another buddy will go Trick or Treating with us. 

Two months into the new school year and I'm finding my rhythm lately which is nice. I had to spend a month trying out different options for me and Morgan and it was exhausting! 

So here's the current rhythm we're in. Once Ryan and the boys head out in the morning, I get the rest of us ready for the day and work with Morgan and Jake to get their morning chores done. This zaps me. Every day. Then I take an hour to straighten the house a bit and recover from the emotional toll of doing chores with M&J. Around 10am, Aliza goes down for her nap and I start school with Morgan. We do school until 12, have lunch and finish whatever is left of school work but sometimes we're done in just an hour and a half. Typically takes 1.5-3 hours each day for her school work and I never know which because it often depends on how well she grasps the day's concepts. I'm using Calvert Education and it seems to be just what I needed for this adventure with Morgan. I spend the afternoon doing more chores, prepare dinner, feed Aliza, referee fights, kiss ouchies ... and we pick up the boys or they come home on the city bus. Homework, music practice time, chores, dinner, dinner cleanup and it seems like it's time for bed. Once or twice a week Ryan and I aren't worn out enough that we actually sit and watch a show or documentary together. 

Work has been tough lately for Ryan with some difficult personnel issues. This role is challenging him in many great ways but sometimes the personnel stuff is so off-putting that he wants to find something new. It astounds him how some people are satisfied with underperforming and exhibit a complete lack of professionalism. It was bad last week! 

The house hunt is yielding nothing after the perfect place turned us down for having five young children. Perhaps we're not supposed to stay here and that's why housing isn't working out? Who knows. But we toyed with that idea last week a bit. I really only get to search listings once or twice a week, there's just not much down time to sit and be on the computer during the day or in the evenings. I haven't read or listened to a book cover to cover since before Aliza was born and I miss it! Homeschooling Easton last year with a new baby and Primary presidency calling didn't provide me enough bandwidth to entertain reading/listening to books. I've compensated during this season with interesting podcasts and now Relief Society lesson preparation.

Aliza's keeping me busy with her daily circuit of destruction. I'd like to describe it here to have it documented since it's also what most of the other kids have done at this age of curious mobility. She typically begins in the kitchen. Water tower spigot test run, tupperware and towels cabinet undone, fiddle with knobs and buttons on oven/stove and dishwasher (!!!), check the trash for anything interesting, use stepping stool as a seat for her sippy cup break, rearrange or disassemble paper recycling bin, climb up on the stool(s) and get stuck so she must holler until found out. Remove all the magnets from the board with a flourish. Then, it's on to the bedrooms to inspect and dump various bins and spread contents at random through the apartment. Check out light switch in her room that she can push her porta-crib aside to get to. Give herself kisses and giggle in the new full length mirror I attached to my closet door. Try on shoes or try to put shoes on Mom while she's schooling Morgan. Kick and throw bouncy ball until an older sibling takes it away and start a screaming fit. Repeat process with any musical toy. In the laundry room, she likes to check the washing machine buttons to make sure I have to wash loads at least twice. Unroll the toilet paper rolls and unload the lowest drawer filled with headbands, selecting one to wear for a bit as a necklace. And by the time the circuit is completed a few times, it's time for a nap. At least once a day I try to put things in order before the next circuit begins but I'm always way behind her! She is so cute and cuddly, does more jabbering lately too with a couple discernible words - Mom, Dad, dog ... I'm sure her sibling names are jabbered too, I just haven't paid close enough attention.

Alright, I gotta get to my chores but it feels so good to document what my current season looks like. I am worn out but finding many moments throughout the day to be grateful that I have all these kids and get to be home to care for them. I only throw tantrums or melt down a few times a week, so we're keeping it real.