Weekend Wrap-Up

Monday, September 29, 2014

I don't have very many pictures from this weekend, and it's throwing me into a confusion right now. Usually I just dump all the random pictures from my phone into a post about the weekend and it just writes itself! Apparently I slacked off on the random picture-taking, and now I have to actually remember out of my brain what we did all weekend, and write words!

On Friday Aaron and I did responsible, boring things like cleaning and laundry and writing lesson plans and working and going to the bank and running errands... all day. To make up for that, and for the fact that it sometimes can seem like we only see each other long enough to high-five on the way out the door as we trade whose Got the Kids and whose Doing a Thing, we spent the evening snuggled up playing a co-op video game together. Because we're sophisticated and mature like that.

Saturday the big girls had a dance performance at Pantego Fest with their dance studio. It was so cute! I love that they are in a class together this year, especially since that means they both did the tap routine to Everything is Awesome. It was awesome! Considering dance classes have only been going for a few weeks, which really isn't much time to learn even a short little routine, I was really impressed. And look! Pictures!

Lainey is up front, right behind the speaker, and Avalon is directly behind her

I don't think I'm ever going to get tired of sock buns on these babies!

The rest of the festival was fun, too, although it was hot out there! I shoved my social anxiety aside long enough to go around to all of the craft booths and ask the vendors if they would be interested in setting up a booth at our school Fall Fest at the end of October. Everyone was really nice and positive about it, and I ended up with both a great big pile of business cards from interested people and a disproportionate sense of accomplishment.

Later, Gigi brought over some rugs and curtains to Extreme Makeover the boys' room so that it will stop scaring prospective buyers. She also brought a bunch of bread, and I made soup, and Aaron grilled chicken, and we fed the whole crew. Some of the boys have questions about salvation and sin and grace that Aaron has been trying to answer, but he wanted them to hear the way his dad explains it, so we all ended up in a very long after-dinner discussion on those topics. It's funny to me how things like this come up so naturally, without any need to force them, and the teens just dig in. Whereas if we did force them, I don't think the boys would hear it. Which is not really a criticism of regularly scheduled family devotions, but I'm never sure how to answer people when they ask if we do devo with our guys. Definitely yes, but there's no way I can predict when or where or what.

Sunday was exciting because we made our membership all official and everything at the church we have been visiting for a few months. That doesn't sound exciting, but I was excited! I was also social-anxiety-ified (totally a word) for the second time in the weekend, but I made it through!

The girls try to go with the boys to the teen Bible class...every. single. week.

Thwarted, yet again

Then I went home and cooked and baked a lot of things while the guys did their football-watching thing and then their open-gym thing, and it was so nice and peaceful. Bliss!

Friday's Quick Takes

Friday, September 26, 2014

My guys are up and out early this morning, headed off to their first Green Cord service project at a food bank. I'm so happy that we have a service program at Flint now! And that so many of the students signed up for it! It didn't take much convincing to get the boys on board, just pointing out that all of their playground demolition and other various work at the school during the summer would count retroactively, and this will look so nice and official on college applications.

It's really not cool enough yet, but I took one of my classes outside to read on the new gazebo the other day. I love reading outside, and I've had my eye on that gazebo ever since they installed it. I've decided that I have to take classes out there often enough that it's a normal occurrence, not OH WOW CLASS OUTSIDE! THAT MEANS WE'RE NOT REALLY GOING TO DO MUCH! Which they only did for the first five minutes or so, but I think we can cut that down with regular practice.

Have I mentioned that I store most of the costumes in the art room? This is the daily result of that. Also, learning is serious business to be taken very seriously.

The school had a spirit night spaghetti dinner last night, which was SO much fun! Because of the girls' dance class after school I couldn't get there until after the main rush was already over, but it was nice to hang out in the kitchen and serve a few plates between conversations.

think my babies had fun, too, running amok with the big kids all evening. Possibly.

Avalon spent at least five minutes explaining to her sisters why everything sounds funny in the bathroom at the gym. Because there isn't any furniture in here, and that makes the room have a gecko, says she. It was so cute that I almost didn't want to tell her the right word. But it's better to not let any wrong information sink in that particular little head...once an idea is in there it becomes UNASSAILABLE FACT. Have you ever heard of the Medes? The Persians? Weaklings.

I just combined a Princess Bride quote with an ancient history reference to talk about how my five year old was in danger of forever confusing terms for sounds and lizards. I think it's time to back away from the keyboard now and maybe re-examine my life. Or just go write lesson plans, whatever!

Link up here!

Village Life

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

We'd had a pretty full day at school yesterday, and I was hesitant to commit to taking my babies to the volleyball game in the evening. We're all tired, and the kids are so sweaty and grimy, and what about dinner, that kind of thing. But they really wanted to go, and I love going to volleyball games because our girls have improved SO MUCH just in this season that it's crazy to watch.

So my little gym rats had their way and we spent the evening running back and forth to the ladies room watching the match and I was glad we came because I remembered -like I always do- that I love being there anytime our little school community is gathered together.

Students helping out with concessions. And do you see that referee stand over there? One of our high school boys WELDED it for us with his own two hands.  I'll never get over being impressed by that!

Since we ARE reading Rilla of Ingleside in most of my literature classes (because how can anyone's education be complete without at least a TASTE of Lucy Maud Montgomery, right?) we've been talking a lot about the dynamics of life in a little rural village in the early 20th century. It seems so far-removed from our experiences until we start comparing it with our own school. Then we realize that living in Glen St. Mary and going to Flint Academy are surprisingly really similar.

We have our own funny little village right here, and I'm so happy that my babies get to grow up in it.

Weekend Wrap-Up

Monday, September 22, 2014

I ought to have devoted a little time this weekend to hauling out my Fall storage tub (which is NOT to be confused with the Halloween storage tub OR the Halloween costume storage tub...I like storage tubs.) and at least putting up last year's Fall wreath so as to be ready to greet the first day of fall, but I never even thought of it until just now when I read a bunch of FIRST DAY OF FALL blog posts. Oops.

Maybe if it felt like Fall, I would have remembered. We had just that one chilly weekend that ruined the car wash thingy, and every day since has been scorchingly hot. I have not been amused. But the highs are only in the eighties this week, so maybe the autumnal is finally getting around to equinoxing and we will have some leaves changing color soon?

(That's totally how those words are meant to be used, so none of your sass now!)

Until then, we'll just keep wearing summer outfits and day-dreaming about boots and sweaters.

(Cruelly FORCED to play outdoors after church for half an hour instead of watching something awesome on Netflix. Obviously traumatized.)

We deliberately had a very slow-paced weekend, which is exactly what we needed. Aaron rented a bunch of random movies from RedBox, so... we watched a lot of random movies! He got the new(ish) Muppet movie for the kids, which they loved. I watched Gravity with him, totally against my will, but I was too lazy to get up. I had no desire to watch Gravity, which I knew would be a stressful she's-probably-not-going-to-die-floating-in-space-but-it'll-seem-like-the-only-possible-outcome-for-90%-of-the-movie kind of thing. (wow, that was a lot of dashes!) and it WAS and really, if I want to hear someone panic and hyperventilate for two hours, I can just listen to myself. I won't even need an astronaut suit or a certain-death situation!

There was a lot of baking, because there always is, and I'm getting better at multi-tasking a bunch of different recipes at once. If only the bottom rack didn't always scorch the back of everything and leave the front all goopy for a thousand years.

I made a lot of plans for upcoming Halloween costumes and Fall Fest costume contest costumes. And all manner of crafty fun. Hobby Lobby had a perfectly-timed sale on plain tote bags, feeding my growing dependence on totes! for all occasions! (it's getting nearly as out of control as my storage tub problem, to tell the truth) Last night I started making some monogrammed bags for the girls to take to church, but then got distracted and made a new dance bag for Lainey instead. She had a teeny tiny little bag that Avalon gave her for Christmas two years ago, but her feet have grown so much lately that her tap shoes don't actually fit in that bag anymore. So this happened:

I got a four-pack of those totes for something like six dollars. And clearly, I'm not capable of letting the other three continue to exist in their natural state for much longer. Just wait until the next evening where the kids are in bed and the guys are at an open gym!

The Evanescent Arts

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Simmering sauce always makes me feel contemplative. The kitchen gets all warm and fragrant, and my thoughts get all calm and abstract. If tomato-y stuff didn't give Aaron heartburn, I would make red sauce for every single meal and be a philosopher, I'm fairly certain.

If I were a writer, I would have pages of words to show for my work at the end of the day, I thought. If I were an artist there would be canvases. If I were a builder there would be houses. So many professions create tangible products, and nearly everything I spend my time on disappears almost immediately. The meals are eaten, the order is disordered, the books are closed, the conversations are set aside, most likely forgotten. I've used all of my energy by the end of the day, but with little to physically show for it.

Teaching and mothering are by and large, I think, evanescent arts. You can only perceive the tangible results for a tiny second before they vanish. 

But I think that they end up mattering quite a lot down the road, even if we never see or think of them again.

Weekend Wrap-Up

Monday, September 15, 2014

We had such a great weekend! I've been struggling a little bit lately with my energy levels, probably just readjusting to not being able to take a half hour of down time during the girls' afternoon nap the way I was all summer. Contemplating my to-do list for the weekend, I was convinced that I wouldn't be able to get everything done. Or I could, but I shouldn't plan on sleeping ever. But last night I went to bed at a totally reasonable hour and realized that everything did get done after all. I'm still not sure how this happened. I think there might be some kind of warp in the space-time continuum around here. Probably in the kitchen.

On Friday I spent most of the day working at Flint, bouncing between my classroom and the art room. I had more lesson prep than usual, and I spent a good chunk of time making some signs and water bottle labels for the car wash fundraiser that the booster club had planned for Saturday.

The things that migrate home with me and end up being stored in my closet...

I also received a notice an hour in advance that we had a house showing, and poor Aaron had to disrupt his pajama-wearing, brunch-eating, movie-watching morning with the girls to clean up frantically and then throw everyone in the van and come hang out with me for an hour. I was amazed later at how clean everything looked, but it did smell very strongly of the sausages he had been cooking. It's probably not as bad as the surprise house showing we had right as I was in the middle of cleaning the oven the other week, when I couldn't get rid of that melted plastic-y stink to save my life, but it was pretty bad.

Saturday morning was supposed to be the car wash, but it ended up being way too chilly and rainy. So we called it off and all the kids came over to our house instead to play video games and warm up with hot chocolate. That didn't raise any funds, but it was a nice morning anyway!

Gigi had come over to watch the girls - they all had their traditional back-to-school colds and wouldn't have done well even at a car wash in seasonally expected weather- so when we came almost immediately back she stayed to chat for a while and then we drove out to see if they had poured the foundation on the New House yet. They had not, alas, but it's always interesting to look at the empty lot and try to envision a house there.

The girls felt pretty bad all day, and since there were big kids camped out in the living room, I set them up with movies in my bed, which was novel enough to keep them still long enough to recover a bit.

Later I made a big pot of chili and a batch of oatmeal cookies to celebrate the gorgeously cool weather. It might have ruined the car wash, but I love when it starts to cool off here! It was that perfect temperature where we could leave all of the windows open and the whole house smelled like Fall. So naturally no prospective buyers wanted to come look at it. They're waiting for it to smell funky again.

On Sunday I was determined that we would be ON TIME to church for once. Determined! But we were at least ten minutes late. I am going to figure this out. We can all get out the door and to a place by nine on school mornings, so it shouldn't be so difficult on Sunday! But it totally is.

Also, we don't all necessarily fit in my minivan. It's like a clown car, and you can't even SEE Lainey back there. Minivans aren't cool, I'm perfectly well aware, but I'm very much afraid that the Homeschool Mom Cargo Van lies lurking in my future. Mailboxes everywhere should probably start running for cover now.

After church (where we somehow picked up an additional teenager) Aaron took all the boys to a sports grill to watch football, since all we have at home is Netflix. I miss them, and I enjoy listening to the game (and listening to the guys react to the game, honestly) while I put laundry away and stuff, but it is kind of nice to not have everyone underfoot while I'm doing chores. The girls were feeling much better and they played outside until naptime. I finished all of the baking, but there was still a lot of cleaning that needed to be done, so after the guys got home Aaron took everyone to the park for an hour. You KNOW how much housework can be done in one empty-house hour! That's like four regular hours!

I made a massive amount of chicken tortilla soup for dinner and then the guys were off again to an open gym, so the girls and I got to snuggle and do manicures and watch a show before their bedtime. I finished off the evening by finally eating my own dinner and then wandering around the house wondering how I didn't have any tasks left to deal with. It was disorienting, but in a good way!

Quick Takes!

Friday, September 12, 2014

1. We had a surprise visit yesterday from a Flint alumnus, who also happens to be the very first of our boys. I'm so proud of him! And look at him here, with his beautiful WIFE and adorable BABY BOY! This makes my heart so happy!

As does that baby's chin, because it has a dimple and I've never seen a three week old with a chin dimple, and it's really too adorable for words.

2. He's going to be an amazing father, I know it. 
I think all of our guys will be...they get so much practice around here!

3. I think, I think we're finished adjusting to the school-year schedule again. Just in time to throw daily basketball practices back into the mix! (and dance class and staff meetings and webinars and various other after-school Things!) It wouldn't be bad, except Phoebe is in that phase where she's perfectly contented and wants only to play with her sisters...until I start cooking dinner. Then it's all pitiful wailing and lamenting and throwing herself at my ankles. Since Aaron and the boys don't get home until nearly seven o'clock now, I'm on my own with this one... but I can usually distract her with snacks and very loud kitchen dance parties.

4. And anyway, basketball! is back! Practices in the parking lot, because who needs a gym?
(we do, oh my goodness, if you happen to have a spare one just laying around somewhere!)

5. There's no way I can decide what my favorite part of being married to a coach is, but way high up on the list is getting to hear all about what happened at practices and games. For one thing, I'm nosy! But also I think it gives me more insight as a teacher, learning about their dynamics and reactions and attitudes in non-classroom challenges. 

6. Aaron and I have worked out a new plan of attack where I leave early on Fridays and spend the morning working at school, and he stays home with the girls and they all sleep in late and then go out for donuts. It gives me time to get all of my lessons taken care of early in the weekend, and he gets to spend some time with the girls after not seeing them as much all week. 

7. I'm about to go now and read through a great big stack of written narrations. Which I love doing, because even though we narrate and discuss so much during literature class, I never am quite sure how much the kids really retain until I read their written narrations for the week. Then I am almost always amazed at the details that they could recall! They wrote them in class yesterday and from what I was able to look over in between periods, they've nailed it. Score!

Highlighting the Happiness

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Looking through the pictures on my phone from JUST the past week and a half, I have come to the not-at-all startling realization that...we are kind of a silly bunch. We might be a little ridiculous, actually.
We maybe enjoy this life together a lot.

Like, almost all of the time.

Some of the girls declared yesterday to be 80's/Tacky day at school. No one was really surprised that they convinced some of the boys to share their costumes by the end of the day...

This is what I get when I ask for "dance poses"...

First day of basketball and there's the coach, wearing a Batman shirt and holding a mostly-naked baby while he runs everything.
(Because I totally forgot to pack a change of clothes for Phoebe, and she had an explosive diaper issue at the end of the day and Gigi had to leave so I handed the baby off to Aaron while I packed up the big girls' backpacks, and he just went with it because that's my man!)

I'm not silly, however. I am totally serious all of the time.
I am the Baking Warrior.

Back to School!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The new school year has officially begun! 

(Isn't that apple pretty? Good thing I got this picture before Phoebe ATE it!)

Back-to-school is my favorite holiday. I know every holiday is my favorite, and furthermore that back-to-school isn't actually a holiday, but I stand by that statement. You get to see everyone again, and everything is all crisp and new, and the structure and rhythm of the day just feels right. I love it.

I'm also really excited about the content that I'm teaching this year in art and literature. Initially I wasn't... I've been dreading the Modern Era (dun dun dun!) for a while now, but I stepped back and looked at my syllabus last week and realized that I'm looking forward to all of my books. Maybe this is because I'm ignoring the existence of Hemingway this time around. I'm not even a little bit sorry. I couldn't possibly read all of the books in a year, even if I wanted to!

Apparently I am really into collages right now. But seriously, these are the books we get to read this year! I can't wait to start each one!

Everything that needed to be done was done in time, in spite of the destructive efforts of my children, the Revolt of ALL the Printers that I really could have done without, and the house showings that kept making us clean up and leave when we were home. Actually, we were really glad to have those, and they pushed us to keep everything nice and not littered with lesson plan papers. Plus we got more work done at school because we couldn't really go anywhere else!

And then yesterday morning came and even though it was extra busy, it felt like a big sigh of relief. Everything is back to normal! 

Chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast, so you KNOW it's a special occasion! 

My new homeroom group of seventh and eight graders, who were largely suspicious of me until I bribed them with homemade muffins. Baked goods are an integral component of my educational methods. 

I spent the day chatting about my syllabus and reading The Last Leaf aloud, and it was kind of a fantastic start to the year! 

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