Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Flying right through the school year (or dragging through some weeks)

I'm so glad Thanksgiving is this week (and that we have pretty relaxed plans) - we need this break. Although I'm doing less than in past years, with more kids and their more homework (plus Rob's school requirements), it feels full.

Rob's doing well in school. So are most of the kids, some a little more diligently than others. (If only we could only take classes that interest us!)

Gideon seems to learn a new word every day - or say something that surprises or impresses us. As I left Walmart yesterday morning and we passed the entrance to the bathrooms, he pointed at the door (which only had the typical men/women symbols) and he said "potty". I have no idea how he knew that?

Our favorite Gideon words and phrases right now:
"hep you" (Comes from "do you want me to help you?" yes)
"a ride" (It has to be high pitched in a sing-song voice)
"CAH" (Car is by far his favorite everything - word, toy, clothing decoration)

My only gripe right now is (an old never-ending gripe): I HATE HOMEWORK!
I am tired of doing it with Alee. (My opinion: homework should be illegal in elementary school and preferably middle school. And if a child can't do it unassisted, then it is not appropriate to send home. If I wanted to do it with my child, I would be homeschooling her...which sometimes I consider as an option.)
I'm tired of the twins never having time to just play anymore and even music practice (which they actually enjoy) is being pushed aside because of loads of homework.
I'm tired of (and proud of) Carolyn having to help her friends through their math homework.
Seth appears to have less, but he's also struggling through classes, so he's probably not doing enough. (But as I feel homework shouldn't exist, I'm struggling to really go after that problem.)

Ok, I'm done with that gripe session; I just thought it should be preserved in writing.

We've had a good month overall (since my last post) with some musical performances and other times to shine, along with some birthday fun, cleaning, and learning.

Rob and I have been taking a self-reliance class at church (a 12-week program free to anyone that helps participants become more self-reliant in some area); we are taking the personal finance class. I've always been good with the budget (and numbers in general); I like planning and preparing, so I took it with the goal of improving in whatever way I could or getting ideas for something I could change (if anything). And we have both really enjoyed it - especially taking it together. It has been good talking about the budget together. We have grown closer together and have found ways to improve financially, prepare better for the unknown and the known, and share things with the kids.

I know you're really here for the pictures ;) so let's get on with it!

We'll start with the little ham that everyone loves - Gideon. Such a mess these days!
He's not wild about clothes (especially shoes, hats, socks, and pants - although the last one is a requirement to leave the house). Here, he went a little wild while I was out of the room!

Then he is learning to make climbing happen. (We do try to discourage things that roll as a step stool).

He agreed to wear glasses on a sunny day.
(We've been totally slack on our walks since the weather turned cool - mostly since he resists all proper attire for cool weather.)

Loves a bath.

And a box...

And did I mention cars? (I found this on on the shelf where I wanted to put down the tray of prepared vegetables.)
 And I found this one emptying out the clean dishes from the dishwasher (see if past the truck-spoon?)

I basically find cars and trains (and anything with wheels = "car") everywhere!
 What a mess! (He's tried dipping his oranges in the ketchup to see if they are also improved by ketchup as the chicken nuggets are.)
 Turns out oranges in ketchup must be disgusting because it is his favorite fruit and he has abandoned the last two wedges. (They are the little clementine/mandarin size oranges.)

"I love cars" - he will wear clothes with cars on them, so I bought more PJs from the consignment shop with cars on them. Post-bathtime has become much easier!
My mom made this little outfit for him. (No fight getting dressed for church Sunday.)
 Perhaps we can just buy ALL his clothes with cars on them!?

Enough pictures - my brother will be sending me stats on the favorite child judged by number of blog pictures again!
(As a defense, several of the children are now in those tween/teen years and prefer to hide from the camera now.)

Seth and Kaitlyn are not my hiders though!
He wants me to photoshop this picture with a cello added. (Good idea...I'll get to that, eventually.)

As Halloween is in October, the orchestra teachers (middle school and high school) decided that for their combined concert this fall, they would do costumes in lieu of the traditional black/white concert dress standard.

(Natalie's costume was all black clothes and her hair styled into a fake bob had fallen out by the end of dance class before the concert - yes, same night. Of course) - She was only "findable" when it was only 6th grade up there.
 Seth was always findable! I think the gnome hat is going to be required for all future outings where one can get easily lost. It has come in handy at probably 4 different times in the past month!
 Carolyn was in the first chair (I don't know if she's offically "first chair" or if that's just her assigned seat?), so she was also easy to find, especially in her bright orange "Camp Half-Blood" shirt.)

 Sixth grade is on the very back row in the ALL COMBINED song, so I doubt you can find my short little red head on the back in this photo, but you can see Seth and Carolyn - just look on the left (violins) for the orange shirt near the front and on the right (cellos) for the awesome gnome hat. :)
 The combined song was Over the Rainbow (from the Wizard of Oz).
Gideon was actually cooperative for the concert mostly. He likes music. He was tired, so he wasn't perfect (but he's 1, so we'll let it slide). :)

My strings students - Carolyn 8th, Natalie 6th, Seth 10th.
(I hope they do this combined schools things again next year!)
 For those unaware and wondering, Kaitlyn switched to band this year (clarinet), so her concert for fall is in December. She is deciding whether she wants to stay band or switch back to strings. (Ah, if only we had time for every instrument in the world!)

I tried to get one more shot, but Gideon ran up and I lost Natalie's focus. :)

And of course, the last week of dance classes before halloween always means costume week, so we got extra wear out of costume pieces this year.

The gnome hat was one of my fastest pieces (after I worked out the math - measure twice, cut once!) and it has probably gotten the most wear of all the costume pieces!
Just so you know what they are:
Seth - gnome
Carolyn - character from Percy Jackson (any camper)
Kaitlyn - butterfly
Natalie - black widow (Avengers character)
Alee - Tonks (from Harry Potter), (later) dancer
Gideon - penguin, (later) Ninja Turtle (and he had a BamBam costume on for library storytime, but he fell asleep on the way there, so that one didn't get pictured)

 The penguin costume was Natalie's when she was 21 months old.

Alee technically should have a girly trench coat for her costume, but we couldn't find one, so cloak it is!

I loved the phone gnome picture. :)

You can't see it in this pic, but she's got a fake bob and bracelets that look like they're holding bullets (really just black crayons). Her costume looks mostly normal.

Next year, I am demanding simplification over dreams!
(I did learn a new technique on my serger working with this slippery sheer fabric though.) Carolyn's best friend who was over for the afternoon did Kaitlyn's face paint.

The whole group

I forgot about us - Charlie Brown and Lucy Van Pelt
(I tried making fake bangs with my hair; it kind of worked.)

Halloween night Alee decided to use an old dance costume instead and we put on feet pajamas for Gideon that were made to look like a ninja turtle. (He was not thrilled about any previous costume I had tried from our box, so I bought this pair of PJs from the consignment shop for a fuss-free night.)
He now has another pair of PJs he is willing to put on (because of the pizza on the front).

He wanted chocolate chip muffins as his "birthday cake".

Rearranging again - we cut down the 2 bunk beds to be shorter and took the cut off part to lift up Seth's bed, so all three are like short loft beds now.

Let's just be real - this is typical "clean" for his room.
I did take it from the best angle to hide the rest of the mess!
 The girls room looks much better overall, but it takes much longer to clean. (Girls have so much stuff they're attached to!)

After I voted, we took the rest of election day to visit Edventure and then get the piano tuned. (I'm not sure which was more fascinating for the kids!)

The loved playing it open. I might have to have (as one blogger called it this week online) "Naked Piano Week" - where you uncover the piano's outer wood to show the inside. It really is fun to watch all those little hammers banging and strings vibrating!

 Alee wanted a Harry Potter party for her birthday.
(This was her year for a friend party. I may have to alter my rule for one friend party per year because some kids will have had fewer than others by adulthood if I don't double up to catch some up.)

She wanted a cake that looked like "The Monster Book of Monsters" (a book from Harry Potter that looks like a furry biting book about various fictional creatures.) It is probably my best cake yet. (I was so hoping I'd be able to show pictures of it without having to say it was a "Pinterest Fail"! The instructions came from YouTube.)

I picked the simplest decorations and activities that I could find on Pinterest or think of in my own head. It's been a busy time trying to keep up with Gideon and real life. I put this party (cake included) together in 2 days! (Thankfully, this is not my first Potter Party.)
 And I like favors that are (or can be) useful later.

I was trying to get the kids (twins plus 3 friends) playing in their talent show - getting my twins faces but not their kids' faces. They played "Viva la Vida" (by Coldplay). Kaitlyn on piano, Natalie viola, and the 3 others on violin, cello, and drums. They did really awesome (pop songs have hard rhythms, but they nailed it)! And I loved that they all dressed up for the occasion.

Carolyn had Young Women in Excellence that same night and also did well.

Later that week was dance open house where parents can come in to dance class.
Alee's face is because she doesn't want me taking pictures and video, but I don't care. I pay for everything, so she doesn't get a choice.

All 3 youngest girls are in baton class together. (The twins took once before when they were in 1st grade, 5 years ago. This is Alee's first year of baton.)

I easily got a picture of the twins and their friend Giana, but Alee was uncooperative until my friend Angel offered her 50 cents to spend at the bake sale in the lobby in exchange for a smile in a picture. (And she did the same for the twins too just because she's nice, even though they were already smiling.)
So for $1.50, you get this happy smiling picture.

Carolyn got boots for her birthday. (I signed her out of school to go boot shopping, because between homework and all else we already had going on beyond our usual weeks' stuff, I would not have had time otherwise.)

Even still it was not really relaxed since I spent the shopping time chasing Gideon around the racks while Carolyn tried on shoes, and in the chaos of trying to pick something, help me not lose Gideon, and all leave in time to pick up Alee from school, Carolyn left her cell phone and we had to go back for it. It's just not life without a little crazy, right? :)

Carolyn wanted yogurt pie and Alee wanted chocolate cake with oreos (in the cake) and chocolate frosting.

 See why I'm ready for Thanksgiving break?

And as I was typing this, I just had a friend from my self-reliance class stop by with a bagel from Panera for me (my favorite thing from my favorite place). It sounds small, but it meant so much. She knew I wouldn't spend money buying it for myself when the kids always need something more than a fun treat for me. (And a treat for me sounds good today after I've been cleaning all morning and agreed to multiple sleepover and playdate requests over the course of the next few weeks. It's 2pm and I haven't even gotten to lunch yet.)

Enough blogging! I am excited for my bagel and Gideon is ready to get up for lunch too. (He has extra morning snacks since his nap pushes his lunch to early afternoon.)