OK, I'm cheating. It's not Wednesday, it's Thursday, but I'm off by a day because of Columbus Day on Monday. (Yeah, we'll go with that reason!) Kids had the day off on Monday. Dad worked. Weather was beautiful!
So, how is everyone doing? I know I've been lurking more than writing lately, but that is the exception and not the rule. Thing is, I've never been very productive when I have unstructured time. I'm getting better though! The first couple of weeks with all of my kids at school I was a MACHINE! Then, like a machine, I needed some repairs and adjustments. I believe it's because so many weeks have gone by and my cluttered house hadn't made a complete transformation in that short time. Maybe THAT'S because it took MUCH longer than a few weeks to get that way!
The things that needed tweaking on me were concepts like getting motivated, trying not to squeeze too much into one day and hence, not being able to finish any one thing properly and the WORST one: analysis paralysis! I would look around and see how much needed to be done and focusing on that instead of what I have done!
I'm not saying that everyday is going to be hugely productive because that's just not reality (well, at least not MY reality), but I can define productive in different ways. I don't have to reinvent the wheel everyday. I just have to look back on the day and say, "I got THAT done and I feel good about it." It has to be one thing, even if it's tiny, above and beyond the daily things like laundry, errands, cooking and cleaning. This is now a rule that I must follow. I, like my kids, are not allowed to break the rules!
Fall is in full swing here in the Northeast! The leaves are STUNNING! I have to get a picture today of our sugar maple tree before the big "wind and rain event" that they're predicting on the news for tomorrow. The tree is BRIGHT red and gorgeous!
My wonderful neighbor who is organized and at peace has been volunteering her time to help me strategize organizing projects and keep me motivated! THANK YOU! Your help has been IMMEASURABLE. I think being held accountable is very important. That's why they tell you to exercise with a buddy, because you help each other take responsibility for your actions!
Purging is actually a lot of fun and it's ADDICTIVE! I sometimes have to pull myself away from a task because if I don't, my family will not have any dinner tonight or a clean table to eat it on. It will get done one hour at a time. Yesterday, I went through a bunch of school papers that piled up last week. Let me tell you that there are a LOT of notices, permission slips, corrected homework that need to be handled when you have 4 kids in full-time school! I took an hour. Stayed focused and processed EVERYTHING!
I've been much less fatigued lately too which is definitely helping matters of keeping up with the house and my family. I have scheduled errand days and gym days too! This way, I know I'm going to be out doing stuff and I can add errands to the list as needed. Efficiency!! Then, the other days I spend organizing and purging. I wasn't feeling good about things when errands were spread all over the place all week. I felt like I was spinning my wheels, literally, my car wheels!
Dave was in London for 5 days last week. It was exhausting for him and for me, as it always is. Monday night he took a red eye "across the pond" and went straight to work on Tuesday! I have learned not to plan a busy weekend after he returns from a trip like that. Everyone's tired, everyone's missed Dad and it's better just to spend the time "cocooning" with our family and bonding. It was great!
Dave continues to work on our basement. The goal is to have a playroom for the kids and their friends by winter. So far, he's knocked down a wall, built two closets (one of which is my new and improved PANTRY!), put in recessed lighting and painted. Next, we have to decide on the flooring. Let's hear it for do-it-yourself'ing! WOOHOO! I am so fortunate to have a husband with so many handyman skills! We will also be getting a new roof either this month or the next. Now, he's not doing that. We're paying someone. I do think he considered it at one point though!
So, our house is going on a diet (i.e. I'm decluttering it) AND it's getting a facelift and a makeover! I'll bet the house would smile too if it could.
So, my kids are OBSESSED with Hallowe'en, especially Harry and Malcolm. They talk about Hallowe'en ALL YEAR! Maybe I'll be this next year. How many more days until Hallowe'en (usually about 364 when they first ask me)?
We do have terrific Hallowe'ens around here. Our neighborhood is old-fashioned in a lot of ways. Parents look out for each other's kids. The streets are wide, safe and quiet for bike-riding, walking, etc. Kids can sell door-to-door. Neighbors bake things for each other and can leave stuff that has been borrowed on the front porch without fear of someone else, um, "borrowing" it. It's our wonderful little corner of the world and we love it.
Hallowe'en is no exception to the enjoyment our neighborhood brings. We get over 100 trick-or-treaters each year. I've seen minivans (I think maybe even with out-of-state license plates? Could we be famous!) arrive, park and kids unload like a Volkswagen full of clowns to trick-or-treat here! I don't know about my other neighbors, but I welcome them with open arms and love that they are attracted to our special community.
Anyway, that's the background, but back to Harry. Yes, my kids love candy, but Harry told me why he really loves Hallowe'en. There are so many kids in the neighborhood and he looks forward every year to how they're going to dress up! He especially loves seeing the new babies (who join the families every year!) and what adorable costume they're going to wear. Harry even remembers what costumes kids wore LAST YEAR! I'd be hard-pressed to remember what MY kids wore last year.
Proud parent moment for me that my child (well, all of my kids) value friendship and humanity over sugar and other material goods.
Malcolm is also counting down the days until All Hallow's Eve. He helped Harry make paper decorations including Frankensteins, endless amounts of pumpkins, zombies, spiders, witches, you name it. They're all over the front door and the walls. I won't tell them if you won't that the creations are more adorable than spooky!
Malcolm and Harry have joined Cub Scouts. Andy is also in Scouts, his 3rd year this year. Now that all of our kids are in school and the fact that we have 3 boys in the local Pack, Dave and I are becoming more involved with the program. He is going to be Den Leader to the twins' group. This month, we're doing a lot of fall stuff like hikes, a pumpkin festival and the annual pumpkin carving contest to name a few. We also had a catch-and-release fishing derby a few weeks ago.
So, he's been keeping busy. He enjoys school and his teacher. Both he and Harry seem to be adjusting, finally, to being there for 6 hours instead of 2 1/2 like kindergarten and preschool.
Andy is almost done with his football season. It's been a big commitment, but he's done very, very well and stuck it out. He has 3 more practices and 2 games left. His coaches are great and they have recognized and appreciated Andy's good listening skills and talents for the sport as well as helped him to USE them. Now, that's good coaching.
Our family has really enjoyed watching him and his team. I also love the whole culture of football set in the autumn, my second favorite season behind summer. It's so much fun putting the two together! My other kids have enjoyed a great deal of outdoor time during the 2-hour practices and games too. They practice at a large park in town that has a playground, a walking track and a skateboarding park. They've all made new friends too as part of the experience.
Andy and I are going to spend some quality time together tomorrow. I'm chaperoning his class field trip. Dave and I have always made a strong effort to go on as many trips as possible. Because my 2 older ones were in school before my twins, as older kids will do, I almost never had the opportunity to volunteer on a regular basis in the classroom or things like that. However, we would always manage to arrange a sitter or have one of us home so the other parent could go on as many field trips as possible.
Tomorrow, we're supposed to go to a nearby farm and animal sanctuary to learn about Pilgrims and a local Native American tribe. However, it's supposed to rain cats and dogs so we may have a raindate. I haven't seen or heard about one yet, so I may need to pack an ark in our required, brown-bag lunches.
Other than football and school (where Andy is doing fine as well), he's enjoying chores related to the fall (like retrieving the millions of acorns from our front lawn, raking leaves and scolding his brothers for jumping into the "pile that I JUST MADE!"). Don't get me wrong. Andy has a lot of playtime as well. He plays with his Legos and his friends in the neighborhood after school and on weekends, rides his bike and his scooter, but this kid just LOVES to work! Not only do I hardly ever have to remind him about his regular chores, he takes on HUGE projects without being asked! He's like the machine I mentioned I was in the introduction to this post!
What do I mean? Well, for example, he spent 4 HOURS gathering acorns on Saturday with NO prompts or reminders from us. Yes, we have that many and yes there are still about a million more to pick up. Also, no, he did not STOP for those 4 hours! The boys all got a reward for spending so much time on the acorns. Mind you, for the 4 hours that Andy spent, Harry and Malcolm maybe spent 20 minutes between them. Andy got to choose the reward as you may have guessed!
Lilly has been tearing up the skatepark, our driveway, our neighborhood and unfortunately, her arm skateboarding and ripsticking. If you don't know what a ripstick is, it's like a skateboard but different. You stand on it as well but it has 2 caster-style wheels (one in the front, one in the back) that swivel as you go. It takes some getting used to, but Lilly has mastered it. She's a quick study with most things including new equipment. She's always had remarkable balance and coordination, even when she first started cruising as a young toddler. When you watch her skateboard or ripstick, her upper body is perfectly straight. Only her hips, legs, feet and occasionally her arms are moving!
She does take tumbles though, like the one about 2 weeks ago. It resulted in a nasty cut on the inside of her forearm. I even had the doctor check it out because it looked infected last week, but it's not. It's just taking a long time to heal.
I had talked about Lilly's quitting karate in a previous post. http://somanykidssomuchfun.blogspot.com/2010/08/wednesday-news-august-25-2010.html. She hasn't "replaced" it with a new sport, but has since gotten a lot of exercise at the park during Andy's football practices and has been enjoying the beautiful weather outside as well. She and Dave went online to get instructions on how to spraypaint her ripstick. Lilly was "done" with the hot pink color. It is now bright yellow with gold accents. Andy's scooter is now gold as well. Both toys look SO cool!
We will be encouraging her further to do rock climbing or skateboarding lessons now that football is wrapping up and the weather will be colder and colder soon. My kids still play outside when it's cold, but for not nearly as long. She said she may want to do basketball in the winter. She's never expressed an interest before so maybe that's what she'll end up doing. Either way, she's very happy NOT to be at karate!
In the meantime, she has joined the school's chorus and band. She played the violin last year, but it just wasn't exciting enough for her. I don't fully understand what she means by that, but anyway, she's playing the clarinet this year. She has good friends that are either violinists or clarinetists so that wasn't the reason she stopped violin, but anyway, she's enjoying it!
Since most of the clarinetists and other band members began their tenure last year in 4th grade and Lilly played violin in the Orchestra, she is behind this year. However, her instructor allowed her to jump in with the 5th graders because I was a clarinet player and I can help her!
It's true. I played for 10 years and was even a music major in college for awhile. I was just not dedicated enough to be a musician for life, so I finished my degree in psychology. I have barely played in all of these years (since I was 20!). I have a professional clarinet that was not in good shape THEN and is still poor NOW, but I picked it up.
Between me (and the clarinet) being rusty, (well, it's tarnished, I'm rusty) and the clarinet STILL being in bad shape, I decided to instead try my old student clarinet from when I was in 5th grade! It is so much easier to play than my wooden professional one but it doesn't sound nearly as nice. Now, it doesn't "sound" at all because I blew a pad loose. The little foam pads are what keep air from leaking in the wrong place. Without even ONE tiny pad, the clarinet just goes "FFFFFFFFF" (that would be the sound of air without any music).
OK, so the pad is fixable, but Lilly wanted her own clarinet. Also, this way I could play her new one instead of my professional one that will be going on EBay or Craigslist VERY soon! It is an absolutely STUNNING student model that Dave got a very good deal on. It's brand new. My husband does not believe in renting instruments or buying used cars. Something about "you don't know what the previous owner did to it or didn't do to it maintenance-wise" regarding the cars and "by the time we pay all of that rent, we could own it" regarding the instruments. Anyone need a very gently used violin by the way? One owner, us. In case you got lost, we now have 3 clarinets but we will only be keeping 1 ultimately, Lilly's new one!
It is a special plastic but it's formulated to look like wood. Doesn't sound like wood, but that's OK. She doesn't need a wooden one at this stage of the game. They also require more maintenance. I am having fun helping her in spite of the fact that I had decided long ago that I did NOT want to be a music teacher. She's having fun too and coming along very well. Like I said, she's a quick study.