Thursday, August 27, 2009

Full plate

A few days ago Ethan's curriculum for kindergarten showed up. At first I wasn't going to use any curriculum (or organized curriculum rather) and just continue working on his reading and reinforcing basic concepts of counting and and such. But as the time drew nearer for Gwen to start pre-k, I got more and more stressed about making sure he'd have what he should need. Its strange. I feel two completely opposite ways on this issue.

1. I feel that kids these days are pushed WAY too young and WAY too fast academically. In theory, I have no problem with delaying all "official" schooling until 7.

2. On the other hand, I see the natural desire my kids have to read and the love they have of worksheets and other typical school-like tasks. I want to take advantage of that natural desire to do those things.

So I ordered the Kindergarten curriculum from My Fathers World. Its pretty cheap (total cost is just slightly more than 1 month of Gwen's pre-k class!) and seems to be a low-key and fun paced curriculum.

My plan is to work with him while Gwen attends the church pre-k that Ethan attended last year. Both kids have gotten so much from the pre-school and pre-k classes and we wanted her to finish that out before going full time into homeschooling. Next year, I think we'll be using Sonlight and have both kids in the same "grade". I say "grade" because they won't be in grades per se but just working at their own speed through the curriculum.

Although both these curriculum that we plan on using are extremely user-friendly and require little prep-work for me, I'm still scared. Really scared. I'm scared I can't do this. No, I know I can do this... I'm scared at how overwhelmed I'm going to feel when I do this. I can't even keep on top of housework and other things I want to do (sewing, how I miss you), and now I'm adding more to the plate.

Another thing pending is changing our diet completely to help Ethan get off dairy, eggs and gluten for at least six weeks. Ideally we should be doing 3 months, but 3 months from now runs us through Thanksgiving and Christmas and I can't do that! So I'm going to aim for 6 weeks to start and that should give us a good idea of how his body is doing. That means I really need to start planning and getting an idea of what we can and can't have NOW. But the very thought makes me quiver in my boots and want to take to my bed.

In short, I'm a ball o' stress. I've not felt this consistently low and overwhelmed since I was on therapy and anti-depressants 2 years ago. I don't feel like I need to go there again, but I need to figure out a way to handle this all. My current method is not to handle it at all and push everything off to the last minute. Hence our last two camping trips in which I forgot lots of things and was mostly unprepared and waited until the day before to get anything together. I keep waiting for the morning when I wake up and feel energized and ready to take on projects again. Usually it does happen that way. One day I just wake up and feel about 1000% better.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ft. Stevens & Blueberries!

We vacationed Thurs-Sun with April and her family, Su and her family, Kelly & Tim and Mom and Jenni at Ft. Stevens, just outside Astoria (one of my favorite places btw!). The weather was cool, as it often is there, but that didn’t dampen our fun!

There were 7 children and Ethan was the oldest, so they kept us hopping. The oldest 4 are close in age and everyone played nicely.

Group hug! (Gibson, Heather, Gwen and Ethan)


Our campsites. Mom’s tent was the blue, we were behind and to the right slightly (can’t see our tent), then April’s family. Sue was right behind where I took this picture. It worked very well for our group!


Waiting to go on the Battery Mischler tour.


Entering the Battery. It was damp, cold, totally dark and FREAKY. But really really interesting. I’d like to go again, without little ones who tired quickly of walking in a concrete maze and listening to a guy talk on and on.

Later that day, we went down to Seaside and had lunch. This is how we entertain our children until their food arrives ;)

Gwen and Elly did the annual ride on the dinky little train


Ethan preferred the self-propelled car


We had ice cream at Zingers again... can't recommend them enough. Delicious! A real treat and worth the 18% butterfat :)

Our campsite was mostly sand with a little bit of dirt and keeping the kids clean was a huge problem! I pretty much gave up by the second day. Elsa also hated her shoes so I just let her do what she wanted. She had such a hard time walking in the sand, but the shoes made it worse!

The kids roasting marshmallows


Backtracking a bit… about an hour after we arrived at the campground, Elsa tripped (those shoes!) and smashed her face on the picnic bench. She bit her lip and scratched her chin. She also bonked her nose and under-eye area, but luckily it didn’t bruise. Here she re-enacts how she felt about the incident.

Gwennie posing. First princess, then MONSTER!

Saturday we visited the Peter Iredale shipwreck (which seems much decayed over the past couple years in particular). It was a gloriously sunny day!


Elsa didn’t want to sit. She wanted to stand while Nana pushed her, thank you very much.


The kids were super brave and loved splashing in the icy waters!



Even Elly liked it!

Soaked head to toe

A self-portrait

She touched the sand this time!


My kids enjoy getting as sandy as possible. Its like a challenge to them… how much sand can we carry on our person?


Elsa took off by herself and we watched to see how far she’d go. We got nervous and sent Jenni after her, but she walked all the way to the waters edge without even LOOKING for us. She scares me!


After changing, we headed into Astoria to take the trolley. It was great fun and super cheap too!


We met up with Grandpa Les and Grandma Karen for some ice cream at Custard King. For whatever reason, Elsa HATED this flower. It was so funny! She’d be fine, but put that flower near her and she would get away as fast as possible.


On Sunday we were packing up when a scary thing happened. Jenni had the kids and was playing hide-and-seek with them in the bushes around the campsite. I was on top of the car loading the carrier and I heard Gwen scream. I thought at first she’d tripped or something, but then she kept screaming and screaming and I told Jason that he needed to check that out ASAP because that was her “really hurt” cry. Suddenly Jenni starts yelling, “RUN! RUN! RUN BACK TO CAMP”. Well as you can imagine, this gets the parents attention. Here come 4 screaming and crying children. Gwen is thrashing and out of control and we realize its bees! I jump off the car and rip off her shirt and pants. There are bees all over her and caught in her hair. Mom and Jason are trying to get them out while poor Gwen is just beside herself.

Finally we get them all out and I’m holding her and we start to count the injuries. 17 stings my little girl had :( Ethan had one (which he almost wore with pride… informing us that he was crying because he was scared, NOT because it hurt) and Gibson had 2. We immediately dosed her with Benadryl and people from all over the campground who’d heard what happened (from the screams and from the other little kids in the campground) came with various remedies. We laid her down in the front seat of the car and she napped while we finished packing up.

She recovered very quickly and by the time we’d stopped for lunch you couldn’t even see most of the stings.

All in all, a very fine trip even with our unfortunate ending :)

We haven’t done much this week beside catch up with laundry and recoup! So today I took the kids out to Mountainview Blueberry Farm and we picked berries for about an hour. We did pretty good, picking 8 lbs!

I made a white chocolate-blueberry mousse tart with some of them, then froze the rest. I got 2 gallon-sized ziploc bags of frozen blueberries plus the 4 cups I used for the tart for only 14 dollars. A steal!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Elsa walking…


Friday, August 14, 2009

My apologies

Wow.  3 weeks since my last blog. I think that HAS to be a record. I’ll put the blame on Facebook. Since you can do multiple status messages through the day there, I’ve found its really taken the place of my innate need to share and the poor neglected blog is left unattended.

There is much to write about, and I doubt I’ll remember it all. The most exciting thing to happen over the past 3 weeks is that baby Elsa is walking! Yes, she has crossed that threshold where she is walking more than crawling. And she’s pretty darn good at walking too! The other day she walked around with the broom trying to sweep. Too bad that urge to help out disappears so fast ;) I need to catch it on video and will share it when I do.

The most fun thing we’ve done is our vacation to Loon Lake Lodge in Oregon. We went with some of Jason’s family and had a blast! We were there for 7 days, but also left a day early to break up the drive and took an extra day coming back for the same reason.

There was a quirky little farm by our cabins that the kids would play at. Ethan collected these feathers there.


Our wee little cabin…


Tyler and Elly. She adored him.

The younger set… Ethan, Elsa, Jaden and Gwen.


This peacock wandered from the farm through the campsite. Very tame animals around here (as you will see later).

We hauled Mom & Dad’s jetski all the way out there (and spent a late night before we left getting it fixed) only to find the battery dead. So David and Nicole swam it over to its slip. Long story short, we never used the darn thing and due to an unfortunate slip (literally), it will need some repairs before it is usable again. That was really the only bummer of the trip, not getting use that thing!


Elsa did not like how sand felt on her fingers, so she used this unique wrist crawling technique.


I just love the crazy pigtails

Ethan making a sand angel. You cannot imagine how much sand these children exuded on a daily basis.


The younger girls.


Elsa still didn’t like the sand on her hands, but it didn’t keep her from laying down and resting!


Jaden and Gwen became the best of friends. Aunt Nicole lifted them up on this giant stump.


Big brother terrorizing the girls.

Elsa was so tired every night… Here she is conking out on Grandma Karen.

This deer wandered through and actually ate a pancake out of Uncle Chris’s hand!

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The kids fishing with Grandpa Les

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Finally she gives in and goes to sleep…


Ethan and Gwen both caught fish, but they were thrown back. Just tiny little perch :)


Checking out the tube.


Love her scrunchy smiles.

The kids taking turns floating in the tube. No, we did not pull them, they just floated behind the boat.

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Elsa loved examining Grandpa’s boat.

Initially freaked out by the mysterious hand, but then she found him!


My water babies.


Exploring Grandpa Les’s boat.


I just love this pic!


This is what happens to your baby after a few hours in the water!


Right after we got home Ethan lost his first tooth! WE think he swallowed it because its not been found. In fact, he didn’t even know he’d swallowed it until Daddy pointed it out! He’s getting to be such a big boy.

We head out for another camping trip this next week and I’m looking forward to that one too. Over the past few years August has proven to the be the month where we are constantly on the go and it does get a bit exhausting but what great memories and times we have :)

All for now as I have dinner on the stove and Holly, Cian and Kadin are on their way to visit with us for the evening.