Monday, August 29, 2011

the blogging tightrope

There's a fine line between tooting your own horn and airing your dirty laundry. That's my thought for the day. I'll try to elaborate, but I'll be honest, the ideas that reside comfortably in my brain may not make much sense when written out. The fine line I speak of is balanced every day by mom bloggers everywhere. Some lean a little more toward the "we never have any trouble getting kids to eat their vegetable around here", "my kids always say yes ma'am and no ma'am and are in bed every night by 8 (with a bath and prayers)", these are the Mary Poppins 'practically perfect in every way' types. I'm generally not a fan of those. I'm more the type that if you tell me how perfect you and your kids are, you can be sure I'm going to be watching every minute so I can find the way you aren't perfect (because you're not, none of us are!) I've been a fan of 'keeping it real blogs' for a long time. I have to admit though some "real" is personal and TMI. So where's the balance? Often I tread that line by tossing in some dirty laundry stories when I have the urge to brag about my kids. Like I said I don't want to hear too much bragging and I'm pretty sure you don't either. BUT...I am proud of my kids and if I don't share that here, then where? Quite the conundrum!

I've been a parent for a pretty long time now, almost 16 years. I've been doing it 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week, and for about the first 10 or 11 of those years I did it with almost no break EVER! Now that I'm not with my kids 24 hours a day every single day (but still close), I know that even when you aren't with them, the job doesn't end, I'm just saying all this to say I have some experience. We've also been homeschooling essentially that long, or figuring conservatively, at least for the last 10 years. I often get parenting and homeschooling questions from people. I'm no expert in this field and I don't claim to be, but I do have experience enough to know what's worked for me. Often I get questions about what I did for school when my kids were younger. Depending on the time allotted or my mood I might talk about living life as learning, or going to the park, playing with friends and reading books. Very often if pressed to recommend a curriculum, I recommend Five in a Row. I'm pressed for time right now, so I won't include a link (go ahead you can google it yourself if you want). Almost every time I get a response that implies that isn't enough "work". This seems to indicate that I really let my kids slack off when they were younger. This may be debatable, but the thing is they are doing pretty well right now. So maybe there is something about the "less work" that "works". I really have a lot more to say about this, but I have plans to leave my almost grown kids home while I go do a very grown up thing and meet a friend for coffee (I probably won't drink coffee), but I have a lot more to say on this subject, so I'll be back with more...

Friday, August 26, 2011

Thinking about a blog post

I'm on the actual computer, what do you think of that?! Those of you who are my facebook friends or who regularly email me are thinking, "Isn't Julie always on the computer?" Those of you who've been paying attention would know the truth, "No, Julie is always on her ipod!" Not going on the computer keeps me at least semi-accomplishing life while I am also wasting time in cyber-world. It's a win win for everybody. Well except the person who sends me an email that is too complicated to reply to on the ipod. Then all of a sudden two weeks go by and I've yet to reply to an urgent request. Oh well, maybe it's more of a win some lose some scenario. Either way, I'm here now.

Well, I'm here on the computer smack dab in the middle of the organized chaos that is school around here. Jake just finished a spelling test, Jonathan is working on math, and Madi history. She just escaped to a calmer room though in the hopes of actually accomplishing something. You see we talk too much around here. We're all guilty. I'll tell everyone to be quiet and get to work, and two minutes later I'll be telling Jonathan about his scheduled "behind the wheel" driving classes. Then we'll just get back to work and he'll have the need to let us all know about the new Disney monorail that is up and running. Then Jake will chime in with "What are your three favorite silly songs?" I think you get the picture.

Jake is back on a Veggie Tales kick. I just recently noticed that Barney and Blue never show up around here anymore ( :( ), but Bob and Larry still come around fairly often.

Jake had an interesting observation the other day. He said he feels sorry for Adam and Eve because they never got to be children. I found his insight very profound. After he thought about it a little more, he realized he might just be a little jealous of them though because of "parents and rules". Not that he's the type to let rules (or parents) stop him anyway, so I'm not sure what he was thinking.

We are winding down a good week of school. Everyone is happy with their new classes, as the novelty hasn't worn off yet. Virtual School has had some changes that are taking a little getting used to, but it seems pretty good so far. Jonathan is thrilled to be back in Algebra (2), since he is much more of an Algebra guy than a Geometry guy. Madi is loving her new History (she is part of a co-op). It's quite a work load, but she's enjoying it and what I've read of the books (and there's a lot of them) I'm loving it too. For example who knew that corn was genetically modified to begin with?! I mean it's been fairly common knowledge of late that genetically modified corn is something to be avoided right? Well according to Charles Mann corn was genetically engineered by the native Americans from the get go. Of course, the book also talks about how the Natives knew how to combine corn with things like beans and lime so they could be nutritiously digested (and in the case of beans so they could grow better and help the soil too). I guess it's the nutritious part that's left out of the equation today. Jake's History is also making a big hit with both of us. Because he and Madi are both doing American History, he's spent the week learning about native Americans as well. To continue on the corn train of thought he's learned that corn, beans, and squash were known as the sister crops to the Indians of the South east Woodlands. Today he is potentially going to make a wigwam with cardboard, paper and glue. This is something Jonathan and Madi did a few years ago. Upon hearing about it they (the two teenagers) jumped at the chance to make one again. Jake on the other hand was much more excited about his multiple choice quiz this morning. He also has the opportunity to make an Indian longhouse out of gumdrops and tooth picks. Maid was all over that idea too. Jake, not so much! He's an oddity.

We made the yummiest thing the other day...homemade peanut butter cups!! I was desperately in the mood for a chocolate peanut butter treat (I was thinking buckeyes), but I only had about a cup of powdered sugar and buckeyes call for about 6 cups (a little excessive even for me). Well these peanut butter cups only need 3 cups of chocolate chips, one cup of peanut butter, 1/2 cup powdered sugar, and a tsp vanilla. These are staples around here! Melt the chips, spread them in cup cake papers (I'm thinking a silicone muffin pan would probably work well too) mix up the peanut butter, sugar and vanilla, plop some on the chocolate and put more chocolate on top, cool, and eat! You could probably be careful and neat about the whole process, but I made them quick and sloppy (and extra delicious). They are long gone now, but after typing this, that is the next thing on my mental to do list!

We also had an extra yummy (and on sale at Publix) dinner last night. Phillycheesesteak wraps. First melt a little butter (or a lot) and saute the onion {that had been sitting in the pantry for months} with the peppers [that were rotting away that a nice lady from church gave us weeks ago] (we had eaten plenty, but she gave us a ton). Then throw in some Publix Roast beef that is on sale this week, and top with provolone also on sale. Then put it all on a BOGO flatbread. Now I want that too, but the rotting onion and never-ending peppers are no more:(.

Speaking of wraps, I was blog hopping yesterday and saw a picture of a greek salad wrap! You can bet that is on my mental meal plan for next week. There wasn't even a recipe or anything, just a picture, but I'm smart enough to figure this out for myself. It will have a lot of lettuce and ham and feta cheese, a little bit of tomato and some Greek dressing that was on sale a few weeks ago, and more BOGO flatbread to hold it all together. Everybody loves a chance to eat salad without a fork!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Honk! pics

Jake's fan club


Look at him

Greylag the Goose, Ugly, and cast

more fun...


Random Rambling

We are slowly easing back into school/reality over the next month. Our Foreign Exchange students left yesterday and we're missing them! We didn't necessarily talk all that much, and we had to run them around to an awful lot of places (this reminded me of how glad I am that all three of my kids are involved in the same activities), but they were still a joy to have around. The smell of Mathilde's perfume has already faded from the bathroom and Jake's bedroom (it was sweet smelling and quite heavy). I just got word from each of them via facebook that they are home safe and sound. {Another reason I am a facebook fan, without it, I know we wouldn't be able to keep in touch as much as we are/do/will}.

This week is the week break from Theatre before the fall session starts (Cinderella). Jonathan was supposed to have five days away from there as well between the last showing of Gutenberg on Sunday and setting/ programming lights for Dracula on Saturday. Alas, it was not meant to be... he was back there yesterday striking the Honk set and he's there again today. I'm not sure which is stronger, his love for the Theatre or the Theatre's love for him! He is getting free lunch, and rumor has it there may even be some money in (some of) it for him come October.

As you have hopefully seen from the video, Jake had his turn in the spotlight and did not disappoint. I could be wrong, but I don't think I've yelled at Jake since before the show on Thursday (and I really wasn't yelling at him for the three weeks before that so as not to give him reason to want to quit the show (which he only said once and even he knew he wasn't serious)). I feel like I have a new found respect for Jake, but I also think he might have a new found respect for himself. Any kid who can learn all those lines (120 I think he said) in basically 2 weeks (he got the part on a Wednesday and performed 15 days later) and perform flawlessly in front of an almost sold out crowd, should be able to hold it together for simple things like saying hello to people and making it through Mass without constantly asking how much longer. I think Jake is just now realizing this. Of course I also realized probably part of why I haven't yelled much is because we had two extra people living here for the last 2 1/2 weeks. By the same token though, Jake was unable to sleep in (or even go into) his own room for the whole time he was rehearsing and performing the show because that's where the girls were staying.

So about school... I have big plans of being more scheduled in the coming year. I don't think we'll be able to fit it all in without that. We aren't jumping right into the schedule though because there is currently still too much life going on. We are adding back a few subjects/ classes at a time though so that by mid Sept we should be on a real schedule. Perhaps by mid October, we'll be off it again, but as long as we can get a good jump start, it should be fine. The hope is for a family trip to California in late May and school will need to be done by then. Jonathan specifically works best with a deadline, so that's the plan.

I was thinking about the whole "life is too busy for school" thing yesterday while I was having a physical. The PA was asking about homeschooling. Her son is about 9 months old and she's already getting cold feet about sending him to school. She was asking me some of the basic questions like "how long does homeschooling take?" (I think my new answer to this is going to be "about 18 years") It made me realize how impossible those questions are to answer. It's kind of like "in 25 words or less tell me what it's like to be a parent" or to be married, or anything about life that cannot be reduced down to a few simple words while you are wearing a nothing but a paper gown.

Essentially my kids have taken the whole summer off of school. Jonathan and Madi have gone on a mission trip, we had two European teenagers stay with us for 2 1/2 weeks, we had a family reunion trip to Delaware, Jonathan continues to spend countless hours at the Theatre and now has his name on two plaques in the lobby to show for it, Madi cantors at church in the adult rotation and on the days she sings, she IS the choir, Jake had his first lead, yada yada yada. This doesn't even take into account books they've read and listened to, games played, time at the beach, babysitting, petsitting, and so much more. In our early days of homeschooling, life was school. Being present at the birth of his baby brother taught Jonathan a whole lot more than any second grade curriculum could have. Now the stakes are a little higher and we have to play the college prep game. So while we know that Jonathan has been very well educated this summer, he still has to ease back into a life of textbooks and virtual school classes. The microscope that arrived by UPS yesterday is a testament to the fact that we know how to play this game. I think we are all looking forward to getting back into the school-swing, but we don't think for a minute we're going to turn on some kind of a learning switch that's been off for the last few months. We don't let schooling get in the way of our education around here.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Stolen pics

When Jonathan won his awards the other night he gave two very good and impromptu speeches. I was too "bursting" and too far away to get any pictures or video, but thankfully Tiffany got some pics!

A Preview of Honk! Jr

Tickets are still available...

The Many Moods of Miss Madi

Monday, August 8, 2011

Dolly Awards

Saturday night we got all dolled up for the second time last week for the "Dolly" Awards at the Theatre. These awards are the closest we'll ever get to the Tony's, and it was a very fancy and grown up evening. I felt like a grown up anyway. All three kids got called on stage and received a certificate and a "star" Tshirt. Jonathan also received the Young People's Student of the Year Award and the Outstanding Youth Volunteer Award. The hundreds of hours that he's put in there over the last few months have really paid off! He got two engraved gold star trophies and his name is engraved on two different plaques in the lobby of the theatre. When I have more time (like that's going to happen), I have a whole post about how proud my kids make me (don't worry there are plenty of real life humbling anecdotes that will be thrown in for good measure).

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Girls

We are loving being a host family for two foreign exchange students. Mathilde (the blond {I looked that word up because I wasn't sure if it had an e or not apparently it can be written either way just like grey and gray...I've never been blond, someday I'll be grey!}) is 15 and from France. Her English is quite good, and she and Madi are really hitting it off. Cristina is from Spain and is almost 17. She made us the yummiest dessert last night (truly the yummiest without chocolate thing ever and super easy too) {5 lemon yogurts, a can of sweetened condensed milk [she called it "condensable milk"], and the juice of three lemons, put it all in the blender then refrigerate...that's it, sooo good!!}.

We introduced the girls to s'mores last weekend. They only drink milk in the morning and don't eat breakfast (some days Mathilde will eat a strawberry or two). I did get them to each eat a donut (can also be spelled doughnut:)) this morning. They (especially Cristina) are generally running late in the morning, so milk works. It's amazing how calm I can be with kids that are not my own even when I am freaking out about how late we are. I have to drive them to a bus pick up location at 7:30 each morning. They have "school" most mornings and then trips in the afternoon. They are on a Disney trip this weekend and will be back Sunday night. Then they leave Monday the 15th. I'm going to miss them. Dropping them off this morning I realized how hard it is going to be to say goodbye to them for real. We will definitely be doing this again.

Early this week was an annual tradeshow that Mike goes to. Tuesday was a semi formal dinner reception. We all went, that's what those fancy pictures are of. Yesterday they had a car wash for Give Kids the World. Jonathan and Madi worked at it too. I didn't take any pictures, but a friend did, so maybe we'll see some eventually. Last night all four teenagers went out at 9:30 for karaoke. I cannot believe I have kids old enough to be going out at 9:30 (yes I know this is debatable), at least for now we still have to drive them! Although Jonathan did do some driving yesterday.

Speaking of teenagers, I have about 25 other blog posts in my head and this is supposed to be about the girls and not about everything else, but women are like spaghetti (every thing touches everything else as opposed to men who are more compartmentalized like waffles) and one thought goes right into the next. Having two more teenagers here makes me realize even more how much my own kids are growing up. As I'm typing this I'm listening to Pandora Taylor Swift Radio (go ahead judge me) and I've heard two songs about kids growing's killing me!

Here are some pics of our five kids...

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

August 3rd

Once there were two people...

Then there were two more...

43 years later, now there are eleven of us!

Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad!!

{ has advanced significantly in the last 43 years!}