Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Strawberry Fields and Memorial Day

We've had a very busy weekend, but full of fun!  On Saturday we went with some friends to Sparacio Farms in Brighton, NJ to do some strawberry picking.  We love doing this kind of activities together as a family.
 Working in the fields.
 Showing off her bounty.
 Adorable and hard working!  A definite keeper!
 I think she likes picking strawberries, can you tell?

 Really cool hay maze for the kids to play after all that hard work picking.
 Our plethora of strawberries, it was a good day.
 And what do you do with that many strawberries?  You make delicious, beautiful jars of strawberry jam!  I have to say I'm really liking this canning business.  I get better and better each time, and this was by far the simplest batch I've made yet, and pretty!

For Memorial Day my two Girl Scouts got to walk in the Absecon Memorial Parade.  Emma was happy I don't know what happened here, she just refused to smile.  But I promise she was excited before it started.  It was a very short parade, but we had to walk quite the ways.  I should have turned on my Runtastic and logged it as a workout!  The girls were troopers (pun intended), with only a minimal amount of complaining.

I got to walk with the girls while Daddy stood on the sidelines and took pictures.  It was a very pleasant day, a great day for a parade.  Then we went to a BBQ with some ward friends from church.  We ate, the kids played and the adults played a round of Scrabble.  It was a very fun afternoon, but I couldn't help but feeling considering the occasion that the whole day should be a day of silence in remembrance of those who have fallen protecting my freedom.  Memorial Day isn't just about men and women who have served, it's about those who made the ultimate sacrifice by laying down their lives for this country.  I know I'm just one mother of 5 kids, but the gratitude that I feel for those men and women throughout history cannot be put into words, and I hope that I am teaching my children as well.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

To Home School or Not To Home School

That is the question...

I have done a 180 in my thinking as a parent.  Maybe it had something to do with the fact that Tobie is inching closer and closer to my height, (not hard to do with my 5'2" frame, but still) or the fact that my little buddy, Hannah will be starting Kindergarten this fall or maybe the rash of scary public events.... Whatever it is my thinking has changed and I want my kids around me.

I used to say I had kids at an early age and had them all close in age so that I will still be young when my youngest is old enough to be kicked out of the house, which I think is still a good plan, but what I'm realizing is that is going to be sooner than later.  All the hard nights of baby feedings are over, my older kids are getting more and more independent therefore demanding less of me physically.  I'm a year away from not having to change anymore diapers, after 12 straight years of changing diapers it is finally coming to an end.  But instead of celebrating and counting down the days when I can send the baby out the door to public school I find myself missing my children and dreading the day when the younger two will be out of the house.

I've been doing a lot of research lately into it, and I've been talking to my friends that homeschool.  I've joined some local homeschool groups trying to make local connections for support.  But I still can't seem to make a definitive decision to actually keep them home.  I know it stems from being afraid that I won't be able to do it.  Will I be able to keep up with my 6th graders school work?  Can I teach him the math skills he needs?  Will it be stimulating enough for my 3rd grader who already devours books and has found a love with the piano?  Will my new Kindergartener have fun and will I be able to teach her the fundamentals of reading?  And then there's Emma, my soon to be 1st grader.  She's having some issues that has sparked several teacher/parent conferences.

She's really good in class, her conduct can't be criticized although I wish she would act that way at home.  Her teacher tells me that she seems to have good comprehension and math is one of her favorite subjects.  But for some reason she is unable to retain letter names and sounds, she even turns around, saying POT instead of TOP.  I suspect dyslexia, but in the last month or so she seems to be coming around and starting to read much better.  I think she may be starting to get the hang of it, so it leads me to believe that she is just learning at a different pace than her peers.  But the other challenge with her is her explosive tantrums.  She is constantly combative with Theo and I.  For example, the other night we got 3 different flavors of Italian Ice from Rita's but we told the kids they only get one flavor.  The other kids accepted that, but Emma flipped!  She was rolling on the floor screaming, so I sent her to her room where she continued her ranting.  This is normal behavior for her which is why I'm nervous about having her home for school.  Wednesday I had another meeting with the teacher, teacher aid, Counselor, Nurse and another Teachers aid that I'm not really sure why she was in there.  I started sharing my tantrum woes with Emma, and the ladies started to give me advice, which I understand they are just trying to help, but most of their advice was stuff I already had heard of and tried.  I had mentioned to her teacher I was contemplating home school, so she asks me in front of the other ladies if I was still considering it.  I told her I was and that set the other teachers off asking 'why?'.  I told them we are just too stressed!  We get up in the morning and I rush my sleep deprived kids out the door, then the next time I see them we are rushing around to piano, sports, girl scouts and boy scouts.  I feel like the time I spend with my kids is rushed and stressed.  The nurse just seemed flabbergasted and was like, "Why don't you just cut back on after school activities?" and I feel why do I have to sacrifice the fun stuff that my kids WANT to do?  They love those after school activities, what I need to cut out is the time spent at school!  Then they asked, "Do you think Emma will listen to you at home?".  I felt insulted, yes she is difficult and we clash, but I'm her mother, she will listen to me!  It sounded like they were insinuating that she only listens to them.  Then I had a little epiphany, they used the phrase, "she's trying to get your attention" a lot and I realized that she only gets stressed out Mommy.  I'm stressed when I send her to school, and I'm stressed in the evening and all she wants is my time.  But while they are in school I have NO time!  But if I keep them home I can be the one to teach them and nurture them in a stress free zone.

I'm feeling committed to the idea now thanks to this meeting, even a little excited about the idea.  I really hope that I will be able to do this, I know it will be hard and a lot of work, but I want to spend more time with my kids.  Everyone tells me to cherish this time because it goes by so fast, I don't want to miss my kids' childhood because we were too busy with school.  If it doesn't work out I can always send them back to school and we will have to find other ways to de-stress, but if I don't at least give this a try I'm going to be always wondering what if.  Pray for me guys!