Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Merry Go Round

Too much.  Sometimes life seems too much, in more ways than one.  Life spins round and round too fast.  When will the merry go round slow down a little, to a better pace, where there is more room to come up for breath?

It’s not just the busyness.  Although, it might help if I would stop signing the kids up to participate in all these amazing-sounding activities that arrive in my e-mail inbox all the time (e.g., a cow eyeball dissection class at the library, which truly was very educational and a fantastic experience for Meredith).  

I really do try to say “no” to things.  I try to limit our regular-weekly activities to one or two things each season. Other than Meredith’s weekly art class, the girls have done gymnastics and AWANA together this spring.  That is reasonable, right?!  But life still seems too busy, and too full, too often. 

Like I said, it’s not just the busyness that is overwhelming. It’s also the emotional things that I deal with.  It’s the constant refereeing.  All three of my girls have strong opinions and ideas and the younger two are especially type-A.  Kevin and I have been watching Downton Abbey on Netflix, while he does physical therapy exercises, and I love the mother’s quote, “No one tells you what it is like raising daughters.  You think it is going to be like Little Women but they’re just at each other’s throats all the time!”  Everything is a competition. 

One child seems to have some sensory issues a little bit. She is either extremely hot or extremely cold.  The smallest scrape sends her into fits of hysteria, so that you would think she had her arm chopped off.  Sigh.  As much as I try to constantly point the kids to Christ and mold their character, some days it seems like the efforts are just not paying off very well, especially concerning one particular child.  There is a lot of complaining and whining and immaturity from this particular child.  I feel weary and inadequate lots of days.  I usually have the kids by myself for about 12 hours a day and Kevin has to work some Saturdays to keep up with his litigation deadlines.  A lot of days it’s all I can do to get through the basics—basic school, cleaning up the messes that result from an active toddler, trying to keep the peace, trying to hold on to my sanity.  It has been a really trying spring, can you tell?

Today the older two girls and I attended a performance of Charlotte’s Web at a local college. It was a field trip we signed up for last fall.  Since we read the book last year, the kids were looking forward to it. I was feeling so tired, I was getting drowsy during the play. 4 ½ year old Clara was antsy and kept digging in my purse to try to find gum.  (Maybe she is still a little too young to take to these kinds of things?) Then we rushed back to grandma’s house to pick up Sophia so that we could take Clara to the plastic surgeon for a follow-up appointment.  

When the doctor removed the steri-strips, I was more than a little discouraged.  The scarring seemed really bad to me.  I know that beauty on the inside is what really counts, right?  But will this be a particularly difficult self-image hurdle for Clara to overcome? Some days I feel like I might not survive the preschool years. How am I ever going to raise three teenage daughters?!  And now one of them might have a massive scar between her eyes to deal with?  Yes, this seems really vain.  But, I’m just trying to keep it real.  

All of these thoughts are what was whirling around in this mother’s mind today.

The doctor wants Clara back in two weeks so he can do dermabrasion on the scar and hopefully that will help a little bit.  He was concerned, too.

Kevin has knee surgery to reconstruct his torn ACL on May 4.  My parents and two siblings will come for three weeks on May 8.  Clara will have dermabrasion done May 9. 

I don’t think the merry go round is going to slow any time soon.  I will just have to hold on tighter and pray.  Always pray.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Back in time ...

In keeping with our American History theme this year, our homeschool group visited a local historic one-room school house. The kids went back in time and role-played what it would be like to attend school in the late 1800s in this type of setting. Both of them commented, "That was fun!" when it was all over.

Sophia and I hung out across the street at a playground while the older two had their one-room schoolhouse experience. It was c-c-c-cold but Sophia didn't seem to mind. The crazy thing was that two days before the kids had been playing in the sprinklers and it was 80 degrees. Gotta love springtime weather in Indiana!

Posted by Picasa

Pennsylvania Cousins ...

On our way back from D.C. (slight detour?), we headed to Pittsburgh to visit Kevin's sister Shannon and her family. The kids were thrilled to see their cousins.

We stopped off the Pennsylvania Turnpike to get everyone a favorite drink (read: we get Starbucks and the kids get the most sugary, probably dyed blue, drink they can find.) We noticed that it was a turn-off point to see the field where Flight 93 crashed on September 11, 2001. This trip just turned out to be educational at every turn!

After visiting the Schrages' church, we headed to downtown Pennsylvania and visited The Strip, which is an area with a bunch of shops and international marketplaces. It has a really fun flavor. Especially when it involves doughnuts! Here we are at a doughnut shop on The Strip that sells unique flavors of doughnuts.

Sophia couldn't agree more: doughnuts are amazing!

Someday you can have doughnuts, too. Okay, Max? Right now, there's only milk for you. Max is at a really fun age right now.

One of our favorite places on The Strip was the Italian grocery store. I bought some syrups for coffee and lattes.

The meat market was also fun.

A perfectly crafted mocha appeals to so many senses.

Jeff bought the kids a chocolate egg with a toy hidden inside, something he remembers enjoying as a kid when he lived in England.

Next we went to a park where the Ohio River formed. It was surrounded by water and very scenic. We enjoyed all the pretty blossoms.


I took this picture to show how independent Sophia is. The other three girls played together a lot but Sophia just likes to do her own thing!

The last stop of the day was riding The Inclines to the top of the hills above the city. We had dinner first so we could see the city at night.

Waiting for our ride ...


The view was spectacular! How fun!

On Monday, we packed up to go and enjoyed a final breakfast with Shannon, Jeff, Samantha and Max. And there was some very expensive maple syrup involved (a long story!).

We had a great time in Pennsylvania. It was a whirlwind trip, with lots of stuff crammed in, but lots of good memories.

Posted by Picasa

Excursion to Our Capital and Beautiful Virginia

After studying U.S. history and all the presidents this year, we decided to take a little "introductory trip" to Washington, D.C. We have some dear friends in Maryland and Virginia so it was also a good excuse to see them!

A glimpse of the capitol building, driving into D.C. our first day there.

The White House. We had been reading a lot of books about this historic mansion. The kids observed that the flag was flying over The White House, which means that President Obama is at his residence.

The Jefferson Memorial.

I had to take this picture of Clara in the stroller, as we walked along the Potomac river. Sophia walked most of D.C., while her big sister took it easy! (Incidentally, Kevin tore his ACL playing basketball a few days before we took this trip. The doctor okayed his walking around D.C., but his knee was still sore a little and I will never forget this trip with three little kids and a husband with a torn-ACL. Kevin did great!)

Here are a few cherry blossoms. We were hoping for a better show but it was an early spring so the peak was definitely past.

Meredith at the Lincoln Memorial.

There was a lot of commotion at the Supreme Court because arguments were being heard concerning Obamacare. It was great for the kids to get a visual on the three branches of our government.

It was fun to see that everything was the same at Union Station. (Kevin and I lived outside of D.C. for several years and would go downtown somewhat regularly.) Here we are at the food court in the basement. We let the kids pick whatever they wanted. They picked Taco Bell and Kevin and I had gyros.

The United States Capitol.

Behind us is the Library of Congress. All the spring flowers were beautiful.

On a tour of the capitol building, Meredith stands on a star representing the center of the whole city.

Here we are at the National Cathedral where our family's story began. Yes, Kevin proposed here. It was all very romantic and fun to show the kids. Saying "yes" was the best thing I ever did.


Kevin tells the girls the story of it all.

The gardens there are pretty and the kids loved exploring all the passageways and finding hiding places.

Clara was not in a mood to smile!

There is a beautiful view from the National Cathedral, especially in winter when the leaves are off the trees. :) We also love this part of town because it's where all the foreign embassies are and the architecture is so fun.


We stayed with the wonderful Gazo family. Natalie was sweet to the girls and made them breakfast with strawberries and chocolate milk every morning.

On Day 2 in D.C., we hit up the American History Museum. Here, Meredith looks at all the White House china. Her favorite was Sarah Polk's.

Meredith's favorite First Ladies' dress was Michelle Obama's. It was very beatiful!!

Here is Clara with Mary Todd Lincoln's dress.

We enjoyed seeing various personal items owned by different presidents. Here is Meredith with President Clinton's saxophone and Lincoln's rifle.

One of the more famous pieces at the museum--here is Clara with the top hat worn by President Lincoln on the night he was assassinated.

The picture here is dark but it was fun to see the famous flag from the War of 1812 that inspired Francis Scott Key to write "The Star Spangled Banner." The kids got a kick out of this because they learned our national anthem this year.

Do you see all the pebbles and rocks on the National Mall? This was probably Sophia's favorite part of the trip: playing in the rocks.

On our second day in D.C. we rode the Metro into town. We knew the kids would love it. It was probably Clara's favorite part of the whole trip.


We decided to spend our last afternoon at the National Zoo, which the kids loved.


On our walk from the zoo back to the metro, I saw all these flowers. Aren't they amazing? Spring is a beautiful time to travel.

On the third day of our trip, we headed down to Mount Vernon to see George Washington's home, plantation, and burial site. I was impressed by how kid-friendly it was. The kids were given "Adventure Maps" and there were nine different spots for them to visit on the map. They were given clues and had to answer a question about each place. If they got the answers right, they could get a prize at the gift shop. They loved it and learned so much because of the maps.

Here is Washington's greenhouse.

Mount Vernon is one of the most peaceful places that I have been, with is spaciousness, and view of the Potomac. I can see why Washington loved his home so much.

Clara loved the baby lambs at Mount Vernon.

It was a beautiful spring day, despite some drizzle toward the end of the day.

Our last stop in Virginia was beautiful Loudoun County. Here we are at Home School Legal Defense / Patrick Henry College. We stopped by to say "hi" to some friends.

Our wonderful friends, the Halls, grilled out and had a get-together, inviting the old friends who are still in town. Actually, they were all people who lived in their basement at one time (including Kevin). It was great to see everyone. We also had a lot of fun having our own "Game Night" with the Halls. It brought back a lot of good memories.

On our way out of Purcellville the next day, we drove north to Lovettsville to show the kids the country church where we got married. This is such a pretty drive, alongside the Blue Ridge Mountains. Pictures don't do it justice.

The church where we got married.

We hope to go back to D.C. in another 4-5 years to "conquer D.C." and help the kids learn even more, but this was such a fun little adventure, enjoyed by all.

Posted by Picasa