Aug 26, 2009

My Little Eager Beaver

8/26/2009 — cori
Oh, the joys of homeschooling! They're back with a vengeance now that I only have one left at home to teach. What fun! What creativity! What a special time we get to cultivate our relationship! It's finally HER time. For her entire life, school has always been about the boys and all my time seemed devoted to their educational needs. But she was always there...wiggling her way into their schooling, being the major overacheiver that she is, grasping concepts I didn't know she had the capacity to learn. Since she 'did Kindergarten' for the past 3 years it seems, my only goal this year is to have fun with life learning. We're sewing, cross stitching, making latch hook rugs, planting a garden, doing pottery, making mosaics, cooking...you name it...we do it. My lesson plan this year is "have fun getting dirty and learning". Although, I can't stop this little learning machine. She loves workbooks. She LOVES reading. And today, I learned that she loves spelling too. She asked me to ask her some spelling words. Best of all, we get one on one time together - something I've longed for (and I'm sure she has too). But the best perk is that I have a full time hairdresser and make-up artist ready at all times to try new creative looks on me. Life is anything but boring.

New School

8/26/2009 — cori

This is a momentous year for our household. Gavin and Bennett are now going to public school for the first time in their lives. And guess what?....all my fears, worries, concerns were for naught. We have an amazing school full of wonderful teachers in our neighborhood. The boys are able to ride their bikes. They even asked me to ride with them in the mornings. It's so much fun; waving to all the kids & parents we know as we ride down the street. I feel as if we accidentally stepped back into 1950.

Upon their return home the first day, Gavin swore the day flew by and Bennett said it felt like 3 days. Our prayers were answered when Gavin told us how someone befriended him and showed him around and pretty much claimed him as his friend. Our hearts soared with joy because this was our prayer for him. Bennett also found a little buddy but was disillusioned that he has to wait until 1pm for lunch. Plus, he's a little peeved that he has such a short time to eat and doesn't have time to sit and shoot the breeze and practice his little comedy routine on his new captive audience.

The first day they both burst through the door exclaiming, "We didn't learn ANYTHING at all today. Just rules." I guess they had high hopes for instantaneous learning. They don't understand that when you have to teach 25 kids all at the same time - rules are VERY important. They've pretty much had a private tutor all their lives and learning has happened all day long at their pace. This is a new concept for them and they're taking it all in stride.

I asked Gavin if he wanted to do something together when he got home and he instantly ran upstairs to get his "Story of the World" chronological history book that we've been reading. We sat and read aloud for a while, basking in our valued time together. The exact same thing happened the next day, except with Bennett. He wanted to read "The American Story" aloud with me. But when friends came calling - he let me down gently by telling me, "Maybe we can do this some more later. It's not that I don't want to read with you mom...".

Gavin's biggest complaint is that he doesn't have enough time to play superheroes anymore or read for multiple hours of the day. I told him he's always welcome to go to bed a half our earlier and get a whole hour of reading in before bed. He was thrilled with the idea, shocked that he didn't think of it himself and declared, "I think I'll do that tonight!" This is a kid who values solitude, yet is thriving in his new environment. He's learning to appreciate the alone time he gets now and make the most of it.

Bennett's biggest issue is not enough play time with all the people in his life. He wants to spend time with each of his cousins who are staying with us. He wants to play with Chloe. He wants to play with the neighbors. He wants to play with Gavin. He wants to play, play, play.

All in all, I'd say this is going to be a good year. We're all going to be learning lots. I'm so thankful for this new journey and thrilled for my kids.

Beauty

8/26/2009 — cori
This was taken on one of the busiest, craziest days our lives. Too much seemed to be crammed into one day. Yet, on the way home from football practice, we were driving into this gorgeous sunset. What a moment of wonder, peace and serenity it was for me. It brought calmness to my heart in the midst of chaos. It brought my focus back to the One who made this beauty for me to behold and it reminded me how much God loves me. In the midst of our circumstances, God is still there...too often we don't look for him and keep our eyes to fixed on ourselves and miss out on the wonder of life.

Sunset is my absolute favorite time of day. Whether in the mountains, at the beach, or in the heart of Texas, I'm a sucker for sunset. But I'm partial to the ones here...they're so vast because of the prairie. I get caught up in awe. Each one makes me smile. I see each one as a gift that God made just for me because he knows how much I treasure this time of day.

As I mentioned before, I value beauty. To me...this is beautiful. This represents what I love about where I live, the wide open spaces, the gorgeous sunsets, the vast openness of the prairie. God's beauty is everywhere I look...if only I remember to look for it.

p.s....I'm no photographer. This was taken while the car was moving. I only have a point and shoot camera. But I think it captures what my eyes saw, my heart felt and my eyes marveled at perfectly.

Aug 21, 2009

Thunderstorms

8/21/2009 — cori
You know how some dogs can sense a storm coming? We used to have one like that. She would immediately go hide behind all the clothes in the closet or stay glued to my side wearing a worried expression, while panting heavily. Yeah...that's me. I'm just like our old dog. I HATE thunderstorms. As soon as I hear one blowing in, I start to panic. Especially if its at night. I hide my head under the pillow and squeeze my eyes shut to no avail. I run and check on the kids. Why? I have no idea - it just seems like something a concerned mother should do. I run and check the news to make sure there are no tornado warnings and to watch the animated radar like a hawk.

This is Texas afterall. When a storm rolls onto these plains, the wind blows stronger, the lightening seems brighter and tornadoes can pop up at any second. Admittedly, I've never been in a tornado. But I've hidden in our 'storm closet' too numerous times to count. That's my safe place when a storm hits. I know that tucked in the closet under the stairs with Chuck's iPhone (so I can watch the animated radar), my purse, shoes for everyone and a flash light...all my immediate fears melt away. But it doesn't stop my heart from pounding, my head from aching or my eyes from being big as saucers.

And let's not even get into the physiological aspects of what a storm does to me. I'm one of the lucky few who is so sensitive that whenever the barometric pressure changes fast for any reason, my head decides to warn me with a migraine. So now...not only am I in panic, raised heart rate mode...but add to that the migraine. I'm a walking idiot.

Try comforting scared children in this state of mind. Try playing down the fear and talking about how "God is just watering the flowers, trees and grass, honey. It's okay. Don't worry." Why does he have to use lightening and loud, loud thunder though too? I'm really a child in an adult costume.

One night, when Chuck was out of town, the siren in our neighborhood went off around 3am. I take those sirens literally. If someone is taking the time to blow a siren...I am taking the time to get out of the way of a possible tornado...no questions asked. So, with heart pumping out of my chest, I run upstairs to carry each sleeping child down to the closet. This was only this past spring people - my children are not light. Gavin can carry me for goodness sakes. I was running on pure adrenaline. After a good 10 minutes and lots of huffing and puffing, we are in mommy's safe place. I calmly inform the children not to panic, but we're just going to hang out in mommy's closet for a little while in the middle of the night. The natural thing to do is to include Chuck in the fun. So I call him in the middle of the night and ask him to check the radar for us. Pathetic.

I have a problem. I know. I have many other equally pathetic problems. This was what makes me unique. Most people like to claim certain skill sets that set them apart from others such as speaking a different language, being a great artist, playing an instrument. I prefer to use my patheticness as my differential factor.

Aug 19, 2009

Fun Crafting

8/19/2009 — cori
Normally I'm intimidated by all the creative projects Family Fun magazine has to offer. Either that, or I just don't want to put the time and effort into the massive amount of detail that some of them have. (I am so not a details person - efficient, yes; detailed, no). So, amaziningly enough, I found a project that I knew the kids would love and we would also have fun making.

Funny story though...a project that should have only taken an hour, ended up taking us 3 days to complete. The first day I ran out and got a Sunday paper thinking that would be enough paper for us to complete this little project. Maybe it would have helped if I read the instructions prior to running out and hastily buying 1 paper. All those silly little details again. But that didn't stop us, we rolled out as many sheets of paper as we could and came to an abrupt stopping point. I didn't feel like driving a whole 2 minutes up to the store to get more papers. End of project day for day one.

Day two. Daddy was going to run errands at lunch and offered to run and pick us up some more papers. He dropped them off at home and went out again. We turned into efficient little paper folders. We cranked out even more 'paper logs'. But we ended up 5 logs short. We put in a quick call to Daddy to pick up two more papers. That should do the job. In case you're wondering and would like to do this fun little project without multiple trips to the store, it takes 1 Sunday paper and 5 regular papers. We finished rolling out the rest of the papers once Daddy got home the second time, but were being called by the pool and had no more patience to stay inside doing anything fun.

Day three. We finally finished our creation. What a huge sense of accomplishment. We all worked hard together and got it done. Not surprisingly, only 10 minutes later, this fancy little geodsic dome turned into the "Hieroglyph Ship" and all manor of forts were perched around it.


"The world is but a canvas to the imagination" - Henry David Thoreau.

Aug 18, 2009

Super Powers Update

8/18/2009 — cori
I know it's a been a while since we've updated everyone on the state of superherodom around here. Today is your lucky day. Now you can get caught up on all our family has to offer this poor, powerless, human world.

Last night at dinner, Bennett asked what everyone's super power was. I guess he just wanted to compartmentalize all of us in his brain and organize his little world. He told us, we couldn't have the power of "all powers in the world" - that definitely does not count as a legitimate power. The other rule is, our powers can't overlap. How inefficient would that be if we had two shape shifters in the same family. That just won't work. This was almost as important a conversation as the big Mallott Family Fantasy Football League draft.

So...I will keep you in suspense no longer. Here we are in all our glory:

Do not be confused. We are only posing as regular citizens here. We are attempting to blend into our human surroundings. We are at the circus in this picture. But don't let that fool you. It takes only seconds to morph into our alter-egos.

Unfortunately, we have yet to perfect our costumes. Sadly, there will be no pictures of us in our all our regalia. But I can give you colors so you can let your imagination give life to the endless possibilities of colors and styles that we could be seen in.

Daddy's Powers: 1. flying (not at the speed of a sparrow, but fast) 2. telekinesis color: gray

Mommy's Powers: 1. invisibility 2. fluent in all languages (this would qualify me as highly coveted 'hero support') colors: black & white with pink accents

Gavin's Powers: 1. super strength 2. mind control colors: camo

Bennett's Powers: 1. speed 2. shape shifting colors: black and bright blue

Chloe's Powers: 1. good eyesight 2. seeing into the future colors: pink and purple

Read into it what you like. I've spent years trying to understand this myself. I thought we would be out of this 'phase' years ago. Seems as though we're still in deep. The best thing to do, we've found, is to just play along. It makes life much more interesting!

Aug 4, 2009

Parental Failure

8/04/2009 — cori
It always seems to work out that the week Chuck is out of town, is the same week everything goes wrong at home. I'm not at the peak of my game when Chuck is gone. Today is a good example.

We were actually having a very fun day together. Then on the way home from a movie, Bennett and Chloe get into a little fight in the back seat causing me to silence them and send them immediately to their rooms once we get home. I told them I would call them down once I had dinner ready.

About 30 minutes transpires and I call Chloe and Bennett down for dinner. Chloe comes, but Bennett does not. I figured he was just pouting or fuming in his room to get back at me for what he felt was an unfair punishment (this wouldn't be the first time). So, I send Chloe back up to retrieve her brother. However, she comes back down saying that she looked everywhere and couldn't find him.

First anger set in, How dare he try to get back at me like this...ignoring me and hiding. I thought he was just having a pity party and I was going to have none of that. So I run up stairs and start calling out for him with my excitable voice, shall we say. Still, no Bennett. Then panic sets in. What has he done? How could he be this mad at me? Did he try to run away? Now I'm looking under beds, in closets, everywhere. He is nowhere to be found. I'm hollering at the top of my lungs. How could this silly little tiff end up so blown out of proportion?

I even run back out to the garage to see if he's still sitting in the car. Not there either. I'm not the one with the most reason between my husband and me. He's not here. Bennett's not here and I'm panicking. I'm on my way to find my phone to call the police. I can't believe this. Before I pick it up, I stand at the base of the staircase and give one last holler...and I mean loud!!

Suddenly, Bennett appears at the top of the stairs, "Ya, Mom?"

"Uh, hello!! Did you not hear me yelling for you for the past 10 minutes?"

"No."

"You've got to be kidding. Why are you lying to me, Bennett?"

"I'm not. I was on my bed (the top bunk - the one place I didn't look) thinking."

"Good excuse. But I know you're lying. Get back in your room and when you're ready to tell the truth you can come out."

There. I put an end to that! I call Chuck, relay all the details and ask, "What the heck am I supposed to do?!" He talks to Bennett and gets the exact same likely story. Except for now, Bennett's mad cuz I'm mad. Chuck explains this to me and says, "Good luck."

Gavin, Chloe and I sit down to a silent dinner. Nobody wants to say a word cuz nobody knows how mommy will react. Man I hate it when it gets to that point! As I sit there, calming down, avoiding eye contact with the kids, lost in my thoughts, Gavin says, "Mom, did you ask Bennett what happened?"

"Um, I'm not sure if you just witnessed that little charade a moment ago...but yes, I know exactly what happened. Bennett was mad and decided to lay low until the last possible second."

"But Mom, what if he really didn't hear you like he said?"

"Well then...why don't you go talk to him and get his side of the story."

I can't believe Gavin is now being the mediator. I also can't believe his sudden and most uncommon outburst of empathy. This doesn't usually happen.

He's upstairs talking to Bennett for a good 10 minutes. My emotions have finally calmed down enough for my heart to hear that 'still small voice', the one my yelling kind of drowned out earlier. I started thinking about the latest parenting book we read, "Loving Our Kids On Purpose". There was nothing in that book about this situation. If there was, we were missing a few chapters. Then I started feeling a bit convicted. Anger never changed anybody, even if it was justly deserved. How would I want someone to treat me if I felt unjustly blamed? What if Bennett really was telling the truth?

By this point Gavin came out of Bennett's room and said, "I believe him, Mom." Great. Now what? I've already overblown this whole thing...over-reacted, over-yelled, and over-assumed. Maybe it was time I took Gavin's advice and talked to Bennett and listened to his side of the story. So I did.

In my calm voice I asked him if we could talk. He was still sitting on his top bunk, crying. And then I asked him what happened. He said, "Mom, I really didn't hear you. Last thing I remember I was just laying here thinking."

"What were you thinking about, Honey?"

"I was thinking about 2 deers running in the forest."

At this point, I was attacked by a huge laughing spell. I didn't want to laugh, but I couldn't hold it in. I instantly knew he was telling me the truth. He didn't understand why I was laughing, so I told him, "Honey, people don't sit on their beds thinking about 2 deers running in a forest...that's something they might dream about though. Honey, you were asleep and didn't know it." At this, a look of huge relief crossed his tear stained face.

I explained how I became so nervous and was yelling out of fear that I might have lost him. I told him my world would come crashing down if I ever lost him. At this he started crying and we hugged and made up. I apologized for accusing him of lying. He apologized for the earlier incident in the car.

Poor kid...bad timing in taking an unexpected nap caused a huge meltdown in mommy and yet another hard lesson learned - for me. How 'bout I try listening first.

Reminds me of a Bible verse that I failed to remember until it was too late, "Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger." Thank God His mercies are new every morning and my children's love is unconditional - oh how I wish it didn't take failure to see that so clearly now....

Just Another Day in Paradise

8/04/2009 — cori
These crazy kids!!! There is no activity or space that is safe from their imagination. A pool is not just a pool and a place to swim. To these people, it is a vast world with innumerable options of activities to do. They are not just jumping into the pool - they are in another world, far, far away from here (reality), only I get the pleasure of listening to their narrative form of play since they're talking at the top of their lungs to each other, uninterrupted by all the other onlookers.

Today at the pool, the boys were using those long, skinny pool floaties and walking around the perimeter of the pool singing something about how they were fishing. Of course, this fishing involved hitting the water with the tube in order to make the most obnoxious sound and splash possible. They are singing songs about fishing, talking about fishing and what types of fish they might encounter. Each are talking at the same time, pretending that the other is just as interested in what they're saying. Neither of these silly people have ever held a real fishing pole or fished in real life. However, we did just read a book about a boy who went fishing in a river yesterday....maybe that's where this is all coming from. Hmmmm.

Then, they take it up a notch. Bennett decides that he is now fishing for the government. Oooooooo...nice segway into a new narrative play topic. The options are ripe with possibilities now. Gavin decides that he likes the sound of fishing for the government, so he joins forces with Bennett. Chloe, who was previously sitting outside of the pool with me, doesn't want to be left out of government work and runs over to the boys exclaiming, "Hey boys!! Hey boys!! I am the government!!" at the top of her lungs. If there is a way she can be in charge and lord it over the boys, she will take every and any opportunity. Upon entering the water, she asks Bennett, "How do you be the government anyways?" Oh, those deep life questions that come up, even at the pool. Doesn't she know that the people working in the government now are still asking that question?

She decides she knows what to do. She rips their goggles off their heads and hides them behind her back and yells at them that they didn't see her do that. Then, she suddenly changes personalities and out comes soft talking, nice voice, "Boys, I am now going to give you something for doing such a good job on your fishing. Here you go." And she presents them with the goggles that were already theirs to begin with. I think she knows more about this government work than she's letting on.

The boys are thrilled to have their goggles back and to be given such high praise that it seems the perfect time to segway into yet another fish type category of work....a cook in a fish restaurant. Now I get to hear them describe all the ingredients they are using to create fish masterpieces. Gavin is using the most eclectic combination of spices he's either seen me use or seen in our cupboard. Yet, his idea of going over the top with his ingredients is adding a whole bowl of sugar instead of just 1 cup. Bennett, of course, is adding such lovely delicacies as raccoon feet, stop signs, and shards of glass. Chloe realizes that she (the government) can no longer control such unruly, creative subjects and decides to join in the cooking fun.

Just another day at the pool. Tomorrow will be totally different (thank God!).

Mental note: No more watching the Food Network with the kids.

Aug 3, 2009

Allergies

8/03/2009 — cori
How the time flies! When did my little girl get so big? From the time she could communicate, her life's goal has been to be 'a real mommy'. Dress like a real mommy, talk like a real mommy, wear lipstick like a real mommy. Oh, to attain the height of mommy-hood!

Just the other day, we were taking a walk through the neighborhood. She asks me, "Mommy, does this look like an outfit a real mommy would wear?" I look at her mismatched ensemble of tank top with long, black polka-dot, flowy skirt (that she tries to put with everything she owns) and respond with, "Sure honey, that looks kinda like something a mommy might wear." Oh no...that's not good enough. She comes back with (in her high pitched mommy voice), "No. It is exactly what a mommy would wear." Ooops...my bad. So I asked her, does my outfit look like a mommy outfit? She's looks me over and says, "No. It looks like an exercise outfit." Evidently, I'm not a 'real mommy' when I'm exercising because I'm not in a skirt. There are rules to being a mommy you know.

She's ever the perceptive one. Extremely detailed. She hears all the conversations around her and tries to use them in the course of her day. For example, she knows several people who are gluten free. This must have sounded 'big' to her, so she tried to find an appropriate opportunity to incorporate this into her play. The other day, her and a friend are playing kitchen in the same room I'm in. Chloe is supposed to be the guest and the friend is the cook. She feels she needs to tell the cook something so she saunters over to the kitchen and tells her friend in her most high tone and impressive mommy voice, "I'm gluten free you know. And also I'm allergic to fuzz." Her friend looks at her quizzically. Obviously she has never heard of this and responds like any 6 year old should, "You're what???" Chloe, ever the thoughtful mommy, feels she needs to expand her young subject's limited nutritional understanding and explains, "It means I can't eat normal food, okay. Just rice cakes and stuff." Satisfied that her friend understands her nutritional needs, she heads back to her table and awaits her fake food. Hopefully it is gluten free.

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