Thursday, June 13, 2013

Fun in the sun.

Summer is upon us, and the first thing I have to come realize is how much my oldest talks now that she's around all day.  All the time.  About everything.  During everything.  She is not even really making conversation, she's just...talking.  No wonder her teacher sent her home with warnings for being disruptive.  I don't even really have to answer her because she just talks through it, so I suppose this is just what it is.  White noise aside, it's been pretty nice not having to run back and forth from school and such, and everyone has been getting along nicely.  AND, thanks to our pool (yay!) we have been able to avoid five hour Nick Jr marathons and whiny bored kids.  Our pool is great because it's not very big, so the kids can easily swim across it, and I can easily reach in and snatch one up, which means that they can swim and I can sit in the shade and read a book (gloria halleluiah).  Last summer, since the small blonde (oh, by the way, the baby can no longer be referred to as the baby on account of the new baby, so henceforth, she shall be the small blonde) was still quite small, me reading a book by the pool was pretty impossible.  She had the floaties, but I couldn't in good conscience throw a two year old in the pool and not also be in the pool with her.  But hey, three is another story - this girl can swim and hold her breath very well with the floaties on, and the two big sisters are becoming pretty adept in the pool, too.  A disclaimer, though, as I'm sure someone has their panties in a bunch, I am ALWAYS within reaching distance of the girls - no tossing them out on their own, no running inside for a cold pop, no napping while they spastically splash each other into oblivion.  There, ok?  I got safety down, ya'll.  That being said, I will also admit that the girls have not taken swimming lessons.  As valuable as I know they are, when my oldest first started swimming, I also had a two year old and an infant in tow, so lessons would have either been challenging, or they would have bankrupted us trying to do something private.  By now, the big blonde and the brunette have pretty much figured it out on their own, and the small blonde is making strides, so I'll just resign myself to being in of the minority of parents these days whose children learn to swim the "old fashioned way" - i.e. "hold your breath!" and lovingly tossing them into the water.  It is fun to see them get better, and if they expressed interest in being on a swim team, I'd definitely check it out.  Granted, the big blonde is, well, physically awkward (I accept full genetic responsibility for that one), and although I know she enjoys swimming, I'm pretty sure Missy Franklin needn't worry for her champion title.  My mom did send the girls some diving toys, and for the first couple of weeks they sat glittering at the bottom of the pool after having been thrown in excitedly, followed by "they're sinking!" and some crying, but the big blonde has grown bold and decided to get them herself.  It was a spectacle - a lot of splashing, some flailing limbs, and in the end, coughing and empty hands.  With some practice, though, she finally figured it out, flailing limbs and all.  I congratulated her on her new skills, to which she replied, "well, sometimes farting helps push me down to the bottom", followed by, of course, a loud fart, a splash and laughing sisters.  Ah, my precious girls.  So delicate and ladylike.  Eh, whatever gets the job done, right?  And also, thank goodness it's a private pool.  I'll be satisfied if this is how the whole summer turns out - we thought about putting them in some activities, and I'm sure we'll do SOME things, like going to the library and taking some fun day trips, but honestly, who am I to take away the one short time in their lives when it's ok to go swimming and eat popsicles every day?  Nothing is required of our summer but some sunny days and fiber for the big blonde's diving.

Monday, June 3, 2013

That's a wrap.

I try to tell myself that this is just a nice way for me to keep record of what's happening in our family's life, as I am the worst parent in the world about taking pictures of things (honestly, as the blonde puts it, it's much better to watch things in person than on a video, so I like to think I'm just enjoying the moments rather than trying to "capture" them, but it would be nice to have more than two pictures of the last birthday...), but as it turns out, I start feeling guilty about not posting anything, or, my mom starts asking me about it, so... here ma, enjoy.
We are finally, FINALLY wrapping up school.  Thank goodness.  Towards the end, it is like trudging through mud trying to get anyone, myself included, motivated to get going anywhere, let alone back and forth across town a thousand times to do the drop off blonde drop off brunette pick up brunette pick up blonde cycle that I have grown to loathe so much this school year.  And beyond that, I have been really itching to finish it up so we can tuck it away and move on to what I feel will really make our family thrive - homeschooling.  Yep, we are doing it.  It is something that has been pressing on me since the blonde became preschool age, and while for a few years I tried to put it out of my mind as a mother's paranoia over the innocence of my darling children being ripped away from them by "the man", it gradually grew into more of a desire for something...different.  Their schooling became a smaller part of it, while our family's lifestyle became a much larger reason for my interest, and the education of my girls as people with needs both intellectual and spiritual and whole.  I wanted to be able to offer them something I knew they wouldn't get in a traditional school setting - exposure to the world, to life, to living, to exploring, to learning at your own pace in your way about what you are interested, not an education designed to accommodate "most" children, given to them by teachers who have to divide their time and attention between 20 other students and the school district's demands.  I didn't want them to be limited by what was in the curriculum, and I didn't want them to feel pressured to move on to keep up when they might need extra time, or when they just enjoy and want to know more, I didn't want them to feel pressured socially to be anyone but themselves, and I wanted the freedom to take advantage of opportunities that would otherwise be missed because of the constraints of a school calendar.  Idealistic?  Maybe, but after having done public school for a year, I can say it's not what I want for my family, and, as I am in a position to offer something different, I feel like I 'd be doing my kids a disservice if I didn't at least put in a solid effort to homeschool.  Maybe it sucks and we fail miserably, but is it really a failure if we can say that we tried, we learned that it sucks, and we can move forward from there?  Obviously, I'm hoping it definitely does not suck, and while I totally get that it will be challenging (um, did I share we're having a baby in November?) I am sure that by the grace of God alone, we can make it work, and that it will be completely worthwhile.  Kindergarten was great, the teacher was a lovely woman, and the blonde met some great little friends and really did learn a lot (she reads ya'll!), and the brunette had just as great of a time in preschool, but it's time for something else, and thankfully, as we talk about it with the kids, they are all eager to make the change, too (we can have field trips any time we want!).  This time last year I was still wrestling with this choice, feeling like I wasn't ready to take it on, like I wasn't qualified to be quite so responsible for my children's education, but I found a statement made by Pope John Paul II turned a light on in my heart - "Parents are the first and the most important educators of their own children, and they also possess a fundamental competence in this area; they are educators because they are parents."   Who better to teach our children, whether through homeschool or just in treasured time spent with them, than those who love them the most.  And I sure do love them.