Aug 30, 2005

My Penance

8/30/2005 — cori

Oh boy, was I having a bad day. It was just 'one of those days', you know? Every blue moon they seem to happen, where nothing goes according to plan. On this particular day, instead of seeing it as a testing tool for my attitude, I let my attitude get the best of me and was on a tear. No one could say or do anything right. I snapped at anything that moved. Of course, none of my outbursts were justified, I was totally letting my emotions control me and everyone was bearing the brunt of it.

By 5 o'clock the kids were overjoyed to see their father come home. They all agreed that it would be in everyone's best interest to lock mommy in her room and give her a good hour of uninterrupted time to decompress and be alone. I had to agree. That was the best idea I'd heard of in a long time. It's always humbling to 'tell on yourself', but it is very necessary. Confession is good for the soul, right? Well, it definitely was for mine.

Chuck graciously occupied the children and cooked while I lounged on the bed and read for a good hour and a half. When I was summoned to the dinner table, to my surprise, I found many beautiful drawings. The boys colored and drew numerous pictures of spiderman and wonderwoman and rainbows for me. How could that simple act of love not change a person's heart. Thankfully, it softened my heart and my attitude. They showered love on me instead of complained and whined about what a 'bad mommy' I had been that day. True love is gracious.

As I was tucking the boys into bed, I apologized for the 100th time for my yucky attitude and asked what I could do to reassure them of my love for them. I really wanted them to know that I still loved them even though I was in a bad mood and had made them sad. Bennett didn't hesitate, he immediately told me that I could draw him 4 pictures and place them on his placemat at the table before breakfast the next morning. Gavin took a little longer to contemplate the ramifications before answering, "You can get me up really early in the morning and spend some alone time with just me and we could color." Those two requests did not ask alot of me, but they did require me to give from my heart. I was overjoyed to do these as my penance.

As it turned out, I woke Gavin up at 6:30am the next morning and we had a wonderful time coloring and talking, just the two of us, for a whole hour. When I went to get Bennett, I told him that he had some special pictures waiting for him downstairs on his placemat. You would have thought it was Christmas morning the way he ran down to look. Actually, everyone ended up getting a picture from Mommy. I figured if it worked to make me feel loved and special and wanted, it would work for the rest of my family too.

Aug 24, 2005

Bennett the Brown-Noser

8/24/2005 — cori

The other evening, Chuck was lecturing Gavin on the virtues of listening to his Mother & Father since it was evident thru his actions that he temporarily forgot its importance. Bennett also happend to be sitting with Chuck & Gavin during this little speech. Gavin had just received a punishment for disobeying and Bennett wanted to pull out all the stops to make sure he wasn't going to be next. He didn't know if he had done anything or not that might be worthy of a punishment, so he thought he would cover all his bases.

He kept interrupting Chuck and saying, "Daddy, I wuv wu. Daddy, I wuv to wisten to wu. Daddy, I makin dood (good) choices." With every point Chuck was making to Gavin, Bennett would pipe in with his own two cents about how was nothing like his brother. Chuck said it was almost impossible to not crack a smile. Bennett however was dead serious. We're still not sure what his motivation was...if it was just to sell himself , to get a 'one-up' on Gavin, or out of genuine affection for his Daddy.

At some times, I honestly question his little sincerity. But lately, I have been of the opinion that he is being totally genuine. Take today for example. At breakfast his thankful was, "...dat I have a Daddy and dat he drive safely to work and home." At lunch his thankful was a laundry list, "...I dankful dat I have a sisser, a Mommy, a vuh-vuh (brother), a fayground (playground), a house and dat I don't have to go to the desert to get my food, dat I have dood (good) food and dat I have a house." Deep. He's always thankful about something, you just never know what.

This last act is definately not considered 'brown-nosing'. I consider it a good lesson in how to pray from your heart. Yesterday morning at breakfast, he voluntarily began it by praying (without my prompting). Here goes: "Dear Shesus (Jesus), Fay (pray) bout my food and my fam-i-ly and yelp (help) me yearn (learn) and watch out for me. Amen." I couldn't have said it better my self.

Aug 18, 2005

Lick the Lid

8/18/2005 — cori

Bennett, Bennett, trusting you are my sweet son. As we were eating our dinner tonight, we all had the need to spice up our food a bit with a tad more pepper. The pepper shaker started with Gavin, was passed to Daddy, moved on to Mommy who then handed it over to Bennett. Bennett was able to successfully season his food and it still be edible. However, none of us were counting on what happened next.

Chuck & I had just both taken a bite of food, so our mouths were full and we were unable to stop Gavin and he encouraged Bennett to, "Lick the lid Bennett. Go ahead, do it." Without even hesitating he heartily gave the pepper shaker lid a wet, slobbery lick. Our pepper shaker has a nice flat lid, probably about 2 inches in diameter. It has years of pepper build-up on it since I never think to clean it. Poor kid. He instantly scrunched up his nose and said, "How do I make it go away?" Unfortunately, by this time, we were all laughing too hard and choking on our food to answer.

Eventually, I was able to bestow on my poor child some deep wisdom in how to resolve his pepper tongue syndrome. I told him to go lick some bread. Which he did. I later ended up putting some butter on it to also help ease the pain. I buttered the bread, not his tongue. He was such a trooper though. He never complained. He laughed with us, even though we were laughing at him.

After dinner we treated the kids to an ice cream sundae at McDonald's. He informed me that this treatment worked better than the bread and he almost didn't taste pepper anymore.

Aug 17, 2005

What Was I Thinking?

8/17/2005 — cori

I don't know what got into me last night, but I felt we all could use a little exercise. A nice bike ride should do the trick. I told Chuck that I had a great idea of where we could go. For whatever reason, he didn't question my sanity (which would have prevented this whole charade from the get-go). But he loves me and is always quick to give me the benefit of the doubt. Okay, let me set the scene first...

On bike number one, we have Chuck, the Dad. Yet when it comes to riding his bike, he has the excitement of a 10 year old only in a 32 year old body. Next in line comes Gavin. He has informed us that he can now ride his bike with his eyes shut, feet off his pedals and hands off his handle-bars. What's left? How in the world does anyone ride their bike that way? I nod and smile as he gives me a demonstration of his miraculous abilities while cringing on the inside knowing that a disaster with the concrete is just moments away. Third in line would be Bennett. Just writing that makes me start laughing. :) He is so funny. I really should insert a picture of him with his 'bubble head' helmet on. He looks almost like he just walked out of a mental hospital. His helmet is just a tad too tall, with just a little too much padding and it's white. I hope you can visualize how 'protected' he looks in this helmet. He is on a bike with training wheels that I backed over with in the minivan just the other day (he wasn't on it - he had 'parked' it in the garage right behind my van). So his bike has a constant lean to the left and has bald tires from constantly showing me all his cool skid marks. He cannot go faster than 3 miles per hour. So it is a joy to always be the one to follow him. :) I pull up the rear with Chloe in an infant bike seat on the back of my bike. She insists on wearing a helmet that's way too big for her - but definitely sleeker than Bennett's. But in order for it to fit, she has to wear a baseball cap underneath it, so that it's not constantly slipping in front of her face. I'm not so sure that was a smart idea to put her and I together. I have a history of not being able to stay on my bike. Matter of fact, I spent a majority of my time falling off the bike and running for band-aids when I was a child. But if we were to put Chloe's very 'cool' bike seat on the back of Chuck's bike - that would prevent the amount of 'pop-o-wheelies' he would be able to do and take away his 'coolness' factor.

Anyways, can you now visualize our family riding down the street? And we don't go in a straight line either. Gavin weaves in and out, always perilously close to a collision with Bennett. Chuck rides circles around us while doing pop-o-wheelies. Bennett is stopping to rest every 20 feet. And I have a little peeper sitting practically on my back while I'm trying to balance in order to save both our lives. She spends the majority of her time pulling my shirt up, yanking down my pants and 'tickling' whatever she finds down in my lower back region. This really helps with the concentration I need to be exerting in order to just stay on the bike. Every once in a while, she adds a new twist to my mental and physical adventure and starts swinging her legs, which is supposed to 'assist' me in my ability to balance and to stay ready in season and out for whatever peril life may throw at me. I suppose there's a bigger life lesson in there somewhere - but for the moment, I'm just trying to stay alive!

So here goes our little convoy meandering thru the neighborhood. I see people peeking through their blinds, fingers pointing, sounds of laughter echoing in my ears. Actually, it was rather quiet, I guess I that was my mind playing tricks on me again. Like my mind can handle any more stressors at this moment. What was I thinking??? Who needs exercise? Such thoughts are hindering my bike riding ability and I start to teeter. I realize this type of thinking is getting me nowhere and after casting such thoughts aside, I begin to think happy thoughts. My life is all about the mind game (as if you can't tell).

So, here we are on our latest family adventure. The park I have in mind to ride to is only 2 miles away. But, I'm optimistic (a fatal flaw in this whole scheme) that we can do it because we're all on wheels. Wheels are faster that walking, right?! Not when you're following Bennett. It took us 45 minutes and much complaining before the park finally came into view. It was extremely helpful having the vista in sight to motivate Bennett. At least that was better that constantly bumping his back tire with my front wheel. We also enjoyed the melodious tune of "I want some water!!!" pouring forth from the boys' mouths throughout the small Tour de France we made them endure. Being that we thought this other park was only a short distance away, none of us thought to stock up on water in case Y2K was going to hit again.

FINALLY!!! We made it to the park. The boys are thrilled. They celebrate by sitting on the park bench with their tongues hanging out the sides of their mouths like little puppy dogs. While Daddy, on the other hand, is already climbing on the monkey bars (no exaggeration here - this is the honest truth). Chloe begins just walking in circles. Something has to be done. This exciting family adventure has turned into a nightmare. In steps Mommy. Somebody, anybody, needs to do something to stop the madness. Since this whole disaster is my fault anyways, I feel a tad bit responsible to help boost my family's morale.

I suggest that I ride the 15 minutes back by myself (with Chloe in tow, of course), grab the van, drive back, pick up the boys and bring a cooler of ice and water to dip our heads into. Chuck is aghast with my idea. I'm not sure which part he doesn't like. Come to find out, it was the part of me leaving him there, alone, with two, sweaty, hot, whiney, kids.

Thank God I found my way home and Chloe and I made it all in one piece. I finally make it back to the park and pick up my brood. Unfortunately, I had no more room in the van for Chuck or his bike. So he high-tailed it home in 10 minutes on his bike - alone. Thank God our family fun time has FINALLY come to an end. I sure hope someone else comes up with a better plan for tonite!!

Aug 16, 2005

Looking Back...on the First Day of School

8/16/2005 — cori

I wanted so bad to write about the first day of school, actually on the first day of school - but that would have been yesterday. I am a day late. The reason being, I was in bed by 6pm and had no more thought capacity or word allotment - I had used them both up, plus all my reserves, for one day. So, instead, I will write about looking back on the first day of school - a memoir. :)

Actually, it wasn't as bad as I make it seem. We had an awesome first day back to school. It began by bringing Chloe to spend the morning with her Grandma, so that the boys and I can concentrate on school without any interruptions. Not that Chloe is an interruption - but she is a ball of energy. So she and Grandma are getting the wonderful opportunity to bond a few days a week while the boys are able to focus much better on their school work in the mornings.

We dove in head first into our studies and finished just in time for lunch. Bennett is not too keen on having to part with his beloved sister every morning. He's always a little melancholy on the ride home. During lunch, he's waiting with bated breath for that knock on the door to signify that Chloe is once again back home, safe and sound. He asks me over and over through-out the day if he can do more school that he's "so essited" (excited) he "can hardly wait".

Gavin's thirst for knowledge continues to amaze me. He seems to never get enough. He asks questions I wouldn't have thought to ask. His curiosity keeps me constantly with my nose in the books, broadening my own horizons to find answers to his ever expanding list of questions. I love that!!! I love to learn! I don't ever want to stop. I don't ever want to be satisfied with what I know, I want to push on and learn more, new, exciting things. I thank Gavin for reviving that desire in my heart. It is such a joy to be on this journey with my children.

We don't homeschool because it's 'the easy way out' or 'to over-protect' our children or because we feel we're 'better than others' in some way. We homeschool for one simple reason - we are convicted to do so. Right now, in this time of our lives, it is exactly the right thing for our family. It may last 1 year or 12 years, we don't know. But we are definitely enjoying all the ups and downs this road brings. The best part is, we are growing together. We are fostering an environment that encourages a love for learning. Granted, it has taken months of hard, exhausting preparation and requires a majority of my time throughout the day, but that is a small sacrifice for the long term benefits.

Now that I'm off my 'soap-box', I'll get back to our first day of school. Once Bennett and Chloe were down for their naps, Gavin & I began to work studiously on his Language Arts. After about an hour, I promptly ran downstairs to take a small nap. Yes, I took a nap. I could NOT hold my eyes open a minute longer. The excitement and build up of the day had literally wiped me out. When Gavin was done with his homework (30minutes later) he came to wake me up and we did some dinner preparation together. We had wonderful one on one time talking and working together. We got it done fast and even had time to play together.

The younger ones finally woke up and the rest of the day becomes a blur from there.....somehow, dinner got ready, Chloe at 2 dinners, the boys played with the neighbor's, I vacuumed the house and we went on a bike ride. Of course, none of this could happened without the support, constant encouragement and active role Chuck provides on a daily basis.

Well, I can see it's my bedtime (9 pm). I'm going to be needing as much energy reserves as I can muster for tomorrow. Thus concludes my 'memoir'.

Aug 13, 2005

Social Graces

8/13/2005 — cori

I never cease to be amazed with what comes out of my children's mouths. Especially when it comes to words. Bennett has always been one to have a quick come back. I'm very envious of that because I don't posses that skill myself. I always think of a good one-liner 20 minutes too late. Today was a great example of Bennett in action....

We were at the pool. Chloe wandered over to a Grandma playing with her little grand-daughter. Bennett is highly protective of his little sister. He saw her alone with strangers, so he moved into action. He immediately stops what he's doing and runs over to 'rescue' his 'Zoe' (that's what he calls her).

Upon getting to her location, he puts his arm around her and says, "This is my sister." Now that all familial bonds are established and the older lady in question is aware of who is in charge, she asks 'the protector' what his name is. He replies, "Bennett. And this is my sister, Zoe." He still is encompassing her with his right arm while his left arm sits poised on his hip. His body language was invaluable. He continued to watch the Grandma suspiciously as he made sure Chloe did not move one inch closer.

The poor lady was just trying to make small talk with a three year old - I guess she picked the wrong one. Bennett was not going to be forth coming with any information that wasn't necessary. Yet he still stood there looking at her. So, she tried yet again to bring some conversation to the awkward situation. The nice lady asked, "So, Bennett, how old are you?" An innocent enough question. He answers with "Three." Nothing more, nothing less. There will be no identity theft going on here. He must of learned this ambiguity from his Grandfather who is extremely careful about who, how and what information he gives out to people. (Long story there. Suffice it to say he has a long career in Information Security and has ample reasons to be leery). Undoubtedly, Grandpa would be proud of his little protege.

After asking his age, she explained that her grand-daughter was the same age. I didn't even see Bennett blink when given the information. Her final attempt at winning him over came when she decided to ask, "Bennett, when do you turn four?" His reply is priceless. With all seriousness he responds, "On my berfday (birthday)". No duh?! Isn't that when everybody turns the next age. :) Grandpa would once again be proud that he answered the question without truly giving away any information. By the way, at this point, he escorted Chloe away and thereby, successfully removed his sweet sister and himself out of harm's way.

I guess I never thought to teach my children to tell people when their birthday's are. Now I know I have yet another area to train my children in...the social graces.

Aug 10, 2005

Could we be having more fun than this?

8/10/2005 — cori

I just love days when we get to go to the park. We actually went to a park around here yesterday, but the odd thing was - nobody was there. This is one of the most popular, largest parks in our city and not a soul was in sight. No one was in the parking lot or anything. "Hmm, that's odd", Chuck & I mused to each other. We were a little afraid that the rapture might just have occured and we missed the bus. It was an eerie feeling. But we made the most of it and had fun anyways. :)

The kids had a blast swinging on the ever-so-popular circle swing that goes in circles as it also goes back and forth. Loads of fun for children who love to test the limit of gravity and stomach holding capacity. I lasted on the swing all of 10 seconds with the boys. Daddy continued to push them for another 15 minues, in the 100 degree weather, with a stomach full of a nice and refreshing Sonic chocolate milkshakes. You can see where this is leading....

After attempting to play on all the hot metal and wood stuff in 100 degree weather, we realized why no one was here - it was too hot! But that didn't stop us from giving our kids heat exhaustion. Yep, we made them have so much fun in the sun, that they were sick to their stomachs the whole ride home, were begging for water and threatend throw-up - not the smell I really wanted in the car. So we thru caution to the wind and told them to unbuckle and sit on the floor of the minivan and if we came to a stop light and they felt the need to puke, they could open the van door and hurl out there. Don't worry, we weren't driving at speeds in excess of 2 miles an hour. We ended up getting stuck on some back, country road in 'traffic'.

Poor guys were still feeling the effects of their fun swing ride into the night. They couldn't eat their dinner -but drank gallons of water. They refused to admit that this mysterious stomach illness they were both suffering from was the result of the fun we made them have at the park. They insisted it was some at all costs, I guess. Funny thing was, they asked to back and do it some more the next day.

Aug 3, 2005

The 'Espiriment'

8/03/2005 — cori

Gavin just LOVES to do science experiments. He can turn anything into a science experiment - with or without my help. The other day, Gavin picked up your random beetle from the pool and decided to bring it home and do an experiment. Truth be told, he actually wanted it for a pet. I got out of that one by telling Gavin that his 'new pet' would surely die if left in the house (from my foot stomping on it) because that wasn't his 'natural habitat'. Thankfully, he bought it and devised a nice little home for the creature out of one of my tupperware bowls and sat it right outside the front door. I'm talking, immediately outside the front door. If you take a step, you will be in (or on top of) the beetle's new abode. He promptly filled it with grass clippings, several leaves and a little dirt. He then proceeded to water his new bug at precise 20 minute intervals. Needless to say, the beetle could not drink as fast as my son had hoped and eventually drowned (or starved - we're not quite sure which). Gavin concluded that beetles do not eat grass. I didn't say we're good at science experiments, we just love to do them.

Never the one to be outdone, Bennett has devised his own 'espiriment'. We were all hanging-out in the front yard one evening, when we lost track of Bennett. I peeked around a corner and found him with the watering can, a little plastic yellow cup and the water faucet on full blast. I ask him what he's doing and he responds, "I'm doing a espiriment, Mom." Like I was wasting valuable time by asking him to explain the obvious. So, I continued to watch unbeknownst to him. He proceeded to take handfuls of dirt out of one my flower pots and dump it into his little yellow cup. Once he feels he has enough dirt in it, he then meticulously scans all my flowers in the garden and picks just the right one to yank a leaf off of. He decides that one will not do. One leaf is needed for the 'control group' and the other is 'just in case'. Bennett then gently places his two preciously sought after leaves into the cup with the few handfuls of dirt. Next, he turns on the faucet full blast and fills his watering can. He is now completely wet - but he is driven by scientific research. Steadfastly he pours the water into the cup (that is only about 5 inches tall), and he keeps pouring and pouring and pouring until some of the dirt splashes out around it. There, that looks perfect. He has decided that this shall culminate the preparatory process and he shall eagerly await the discovery phase.

I ask Bennett what his experiment is about and he tells me that he wants to see how long it will take his leaves to grow a new plant. Brilliant idea. He has the basic understanding. I love that he's not afraid to just mix a bunch of stuff together and see what happens. Now ask me that after he turns 14 and has a new chemistry set and I'm sure I won't be quite as thrilled with his curiosity.

Following in his older and wiser brother's footsteps, he too, has placed his 'espiriment' immediately outside the front door. It is still there, 3 days later. And no, sadly we have no new plant yet. We now have a dead bug in a bowl and a muddy, wet leaf sitting on our welcome mat. But, we have kept anyone from coming to our front door. Maybe this espiriment wasn't about plants at all.

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