Sunday, December 4, 2016

A Great Sunday

We have had the flu going around the past couple of days.  It started with Blake throwing up on Thursday night, me going in the spare room to sleep with him and getting sick the next day.  Danny getting sick Friday night and the Kira and Scott throwing up in the middle of the night on Saturday.
So today, I decided to stay home with the kids from church so we didn't pass this around to everyone at church.  Even though we were at a ward party the day before.  I hope people don't get this.

The kids played so nice all day.  That is rare for us. And it was like a magical day!  Danny went to church in the morning.

Kira and Tyler colored and played games.  Then the kids would go from one kids to another playing various games, coloring, cards, etc.   I think it helped that Scott laid on the couch too sick to move most of the morning and Kira was probably lethargic from the night before.

We are doing the advent of #lighttheworld that the church is doing this year.  Essentially you do 25 things leading up to Christmas.  Today was thinking of how we can honor our Father and doing something for him this week to better honor him.  Danny wants to read the scriptures every morning, I want to study the scriptures for 30 minutes each day and journal, Scott wants to say morning and evening prayers, Tyler, Kira and Blake want to be kind.

In the afternoon the boys played chess.  Then they cut fabric and started making bean bags.  The sewing machine has been out since Danny wanted to give a christmas tree oranment to Britton and Renee Olson for Christmas.  It has actually been a blessing to have it out on the table because Scott and Tyler have been using it for various projects.  It is fun to see them sewing and figure out how to better use the machine.  They put it to use to make bean bags and now Scott wants to sell them for the next open market.

We ended the night with the Christmas Devotional which was really good.  Elder Eyring spoke on doing a family nativity with his kids and how it taught them to love the Savior.  I really want to start that tradition with our family.  I didn't grow up with the gospel in my life or really many faith promoting traditions and realize that it is difficult for me as a mom to stick to traditions.  But that is something that we can do, no matter how small or simple it is.  So that is a goal I have for this year. It was nice to listen to the mormon tabernacle choir and a great tradition to enjoy listening to the devotional.

Danny made home made cinnamon rolls that he worked really hard on all day.  He ran off to choir (which he forgot about tonight) and put on a timer.  I went up to put the kids in bed and read to them and when the timer went off I came down and they are pretty burnt.  I feel so bad.  I guess we will just have to try again.  Other than that, there was added peace in the home today which I am so grateful for!

School

More and more people are homeschooling.  It is something that years ago was something that I had 0% interest in but as time goes on I become more intrigued.  The past year I have found myself listening to my friends or even strangers telling their story and reason to homeschool.  I feel like it is a road that is becoming more popular and the reasons are vast.  I feel a yearning to learn more, to explore and to be open minded to the idea.  It is a desire that keeps growing in my heart and in my mind.

My kids generally like school, like learning and like their friends.  Everything that school should offer.  This year, I have found sports and activities fill our afternoons.  As the kids get older, I find our time together becomes more limited.  I have a 5th grader who has been bored for the past couple of years and I feel like this year is the first year that the culmination of boredom has really hit him.  He goes to school and is bored.  Maybe it is hormones or the age, but part of it is that school comes extremely easy for him and as the school system seems to keep making school easier, standards easier, without the thought for the kids who it is already too easy for.  Maybe it is the area we are in, maybe it is our district.  The school tried to do an accelerated 4th/5th grade class for the district, but it didn't get enough of parent support. I didn't support it because it meant driving him 20 minutes away, a curriculum that wasn't certain and no plan.

When you talk about allowing kids to be taught at their learning level, there is really no solution because then it would be a problem the following year or not possible because of their peers.  You realize that public school has to somehow come up with a curriculum that best serves the majority and at the same time not leave anyone behind.  Teachers are spending more and more time focusing on the kids that need to meet the standards.  Accelerated kids fall into special education but I don't see special education doing much to stimulate and help them grow.

There are things that seem really appealing to me about home schooling.  Spending more time with family.  Spending more time with siblings.  Developing the qualities that are the most important for kids to learn....qualities of love, faith, service, kindness.  Spending time working at their true academic levels.  Spending time on activities that interest the kids.  The flexibility seems amazing.  The influence seems great.  The things that I am hesitant about it having the responsibility, time and energy to make it work.  The biggest concern is taking them from what mainstream society does and says is right.  Taking them from friends and recess.  Taking them from a diverse population that helps them to teach, be patient, be a learner and the myriad of things that a classroom teaches kids to get along with others and work with others.  When I think of the negatives, I realize that there is no reason why they still can't have friends or remain friends with their peers.  All it takes is phone calls just like it does today.  Not to mention the many kids they would continue to meet in a new settting.

I know homeschooling now offers those opportunities.  I know as more and more people choose this option, their are groups and classroom settings that are still available that still offer the flexibility to be the major driving influence for each child.

A topic that is on my heart and I will explore and ponder and figure out what is best for my little and big kids. I am grateful there are so many options available today.  I have no idea if it is something I will ever do but I do find my heart and desires changing.

Scrooge

We are so lucky to live within an hour of a temple that has a visitors center.  They put on the musical scrooge this week.  Last year I really wanted to go see the nutcracker but it was sold out, so this year I made sure to get on early and get tickets.  I also decided to get tickets for Scrooge.  We went for a family and it was fun.

Scott is playing Scrooge for his class play, which is very low key but fun for him to see the real production.  We got a last minute babysitter for Parker and went to the temple.  The parking was CRAZY!  I wasn't expecting that many people at all.  I dropped off the kids to find their dad in the line, which thankfully they did and then searched for parking.

They did a good job at the play.  It was a good production.  It was a little long for the kids and maybe adults but we all had a fun time and most importantly seemed to get something out the message.  Tyler said, "I wish the spirits could visit me so I could be nice."  I laughed.  I told him that he didn't need spirits to come visit him to be nice. He is trying to be nicer to Kira.  He has gotten into a habit of being mean to her.  He says God isn't answering his prayers to be nice to her.  I told him that he will answer prayers to help him be nicer, but ultimately Tyler needs to choose to be nice.  The power of agency.

At least he is thinking about being nice.  That is a start.  Today he was actually a lot nicer to her than he usually is.  She gets anxiety and I think it is 90% his doing so it is something we are really working on in our family.

I would love to have one more kid, but then realize that there is so much that we do from skiing, going out to dinner, activities, etc that are hard to do with babies.  We started to get babysitters, which makes spending time with the family actually happen, instead of walking the halls with a toddler.

Overall it was a good time!

Our Au Pair

Since I started to coach again, Danny and I looked into the different options for child care.  Last summer Rebekah took care of our kids most days.  She was awesome and would bring them to the pool, watch the baby and bring them back home until I was done.  With starting Aquabears, I realized I needed someone in the fall as well.  It gets a little more tricky since the kids are in various activities and I need someone to drive them to their sports and pick them up.

There is always a surplus of teenagers, but not all of them can drive and that is really what I needed.
Danny and I looked into getting a foreign au pair through cultural care au pair.  A couple of our friends have used the au pairs and it seemed like it would be a good solution for our family.  We thought it would be good for the kids to have someone who they were totally comfortable with and was almost like an older sister.  Especially Kira who seems to get the most anxiety when I am not around.

I called them to look into the company.  I spent over an hour talking to them about the company, screening, my needs for a driver, etc to see if this would be a good fit and of course everything they told me sounded like it would be a goo fit.  We started looking through profiles and talking to nanny's without any obligation.  We found the sweetest girl from Mexico who seemed like she would be a good fit for our family.  Really sweet, outgoing, personable, responsible and genuine love for the kids.  She was referred to us because of her excellent driving experience.  That was the thing I told the agency was the most important thing, which they reassured me they screened for.

We picked her up in San Francisco and she was so nice!  She came with Danny to a meet the first weekend and I had her drive home and it was SCARY!  No driving experience.  Going through stop signs, driving 15 mph, veering off into other cars, not able to merge.  About the equivalent of 1 week of driving experience.  I called the company so upset.  It wasn't something that could be fixed.  She wasn't safe to drive by herself and probably wouldn't be for a couple of months.  After that, who knows if I would be comfortable with her driving my kids.

Turns out what I was told over the phone was not the reality of the company.  They told me I would get any of my money back, could get another au pair.  I at this point didn't want to have anything to do with this company.  After many phone calls and emails showing several things they failed to do, they said they would reimburse my money as long as I signed a contract stating the company didn't do anything wrong.

So now I decide whether to sign it and get my $ back or bring them to small claims court and get my money back that way.  Of course signing the paper would be way eaiser for me, but it is the principle of the matter.  This company is totally misleading and putting kids and au pairs in danger.

I felt so bad for our sweet au pair.  She got rematched with a family in Washington DC.  I think she is doing well.  It was a very stressful two weeks when we had her living her and were fighting with the company and didn't have any way of getting our kids to their activities except hire another babysitter to drive.  The whole thing taught me a lot.  I can go on and on about our experiences.  It made me realize the importance to document things.  The company told me conversations I had via email never occured and then I would show them the email.  They took down pieces of my profile which I made sure to save.  When I showed them the saved copies, they didn't have anything to save.  The whole thing was one big joke.  When I looked them up on yelp and better business, it was 50 stories that replicate our story.

So we will not be using an au pair in the future or be able to endorse these companies. Some things that their employees told me shocked me about the agency.

Aquabears

Mike called me in the summer on a long shot to see if I would at all be interested in coming back to Aquabears.  I had been thinking about going to Aquabears for the Fall program with Scott and thought maybe that would be a good solution.  He needed someone for the Senior group and their beginner group.  I told him I would do 2x a week for the seniors and do the 8&unders.

Scott swam with Russell and Steve, who are awesome.  It was fun to see him try new events.  He was really good in the 200 free.  He swam it twice in the fall and both times I think had anxiety leading up the event for week, but did it and realized he can indeed swim more than a 50.  Rec swimming is so intense in some ways.  The kids get up and race, race, race.  It is a lot of pressure to win and race.  USS takes some of that pressure off and it is more about the journey, trying new things and long term development of the kids, which I like.  There are pluses and minuses to both and a definite need for both.  He liked it but once is got cold outside, got sooo cold for him.  Miserably cold.  I remember how I used to be and how cold I would get.  He would go 3x a week taking wednesday off for Scouts and Friday off to hang out with friends.  Once the 3x became too hold, I would tell him to just get out when he wanted, but he would feel bad.  He made it through mid November and had a good experience.  The weekend of JO's he said he wished he could go which I thought was pretty funny.  Glad he tried it and tried new things.

When Kira started gymnastics, doing the senior group was too much because she wanted me at gymnastics.  I called mike and he was soo understanding and told me to take care of Kira.  The one thing I love about Aquabears is that they are so understanding, so family friendly, so good to the kids, coaches and families.  They really do have balance in mind for everyone which I love and think is so healthy.

I am enjoying it.  I like working with the little kids.  It is something that I really do have a passion and love for.  I feel fortunate that I get to do something that I love to do.  It is a constant battle of finding balance in my life.

I have tried to really make the most of my time with all the kids. Working really forces you to make the most of your time.  I try to do dinners before I go, which sometimes gets done and sometimes doesn't.  In the mornings, I really make the most of my time with Blake and Parker.  I enjoy the days Kira is with me, but it leaves me with limited time with Tyler and Scott and I am not sure how I feel about that.  For now, I continue doing it.  Dana  Hills starts mid April and I will stop Aquabears for the spring and summer.  The thing I love about Dana Hills is that all my kids are there which I really enjoy.  It is very much a part of our family so it isn't as hard to find that balance, because my kids are there with me.


Gymnastics

Kira has been going to gymnastics for about 10 months at Black Diamond.  She really liked it and then went through a period that she was scared to do anything.  She was scared to try new things, scared to be without me, scared to go to school.  I am not sure what it was the result of.  Her therapist at school said she would funnel all her fears into one specific thing but it really changed her.  I don't know if it was experiencing my mom and dad dying, me going to work, Tyler being normally mean to her.  Probably a combination of it all.

We live in a relatively new community that is about an hour from the City.  That means that most people commute.  It also means that a lot of kids programs are not as developed or available in Brentwood. We went to the only gym in the City.  Unfortunately it was about 20-30 minutes from our home, depending on traffic. She liked it and the teachers were really nice.  When I started to work in Walnut Creek and Clayton and Scott started to swim in WAlnut Creek, I decided to look for different options for my kids sports that would be closer to us.  Swimmer families recommended a Community Youth Center in Concord.  Kira went and tried it out and the place is CRAZY!

It is a center where kids can do wrestling, soccer, gymnastics, taekwando, etc. at the center.  They have homework centers that the kid can do to and the kids can be dropped off and picked up with gates and alarms around the entire facility. 

I have been wanting to get Blake into something and Tyler into some type of martial arts for various reasons, so we gave it a go.  

Kira spent the first week scared to do anything but bars.  Crippling fear to even go out on the floor.  I sat with her and patiently remembered what she was like at swimming and gymastics in the beginning.  Realizing this is her.  Internally, it tried every fiber of my being.  I wanted to tell her that this was the same thing that she would do at her other gym that she loved.  But logic doesn't work with her fear.  I am hoping she continues to feel more comfortable with time and overcome her fears.

If she learns one thing from sports, it is that she can do things that are out of her comfort zone. Realize she can do things that might be a little scary or hard.  Get used to trying new things.

Over time, she would go out and just watch and I thought that was a victory of the day.  Then she would go out watch and do a little and that was a victory of the day.  This week she went out relatively early and did almost the entire practice.  On Friday she actually did everything from the warm up to beam, which is her hardest skill.

The girls and other parents are SOO nice and SOO supportive.  They were always so kind to her  Her coach went out of her way to help Kira.  To allow her to process her fears.  I am really grateful for that.

So we make CYC a new home for our family.  I am excited for her. She has grown to really like her coaches and the other girls.  I am really impressed with the program and she wants to practice her tricks at home.  

It is fun to watch her feel more comfortable and grow as a little human being.

After a month, she goes out with a smile on her face and is really enjoying it.  When I tell her that she doesn't have to do it, she explains that she can't wait for gymnastics.

I sit and watch her for 2 hours and then afterwards we go onto my work.  She comes with me M, W, F and does her homework, eats from the candy machine, reads or just wanders around. It is kind of fun to have some one on one time with her as we drive out and drive back.  There was a talk a couple of conferences ago about being at the crossroads and I realize that is what it means.

I have been using my dads truck as my commuter vehicle when I just need to bring 2 or less kids places.  It allows whoever is watching the kids to have a van.  Or Danny to have the van after work and makes it so I don't have to use Danny's car which he appreciates it.  The best part of it has been able to sit and actually talk with the kids.  It is really nice not having a television and being right next to them instead of what seems like really far away.  So even though it bumps up and down and looks like it might break down, it has been a good little addition to our family.  Plus, my dad would be happy that we have a truck to dump or home depot runs.


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Halloween

Hey.  Here are a couple of pictures from trick-or-treating.  It's way too easy to shoot a shabby picture with the iphone, and I am pleased to say that I put the big flash on my SLR for these.  Aren't they nice?  Well, they are.  Thanks.  

Mister is great.  He still sleeps in his crib, which we keep in our closet, and he likes to sleep with the light on.  He can climb out, too.  He can hardly say any words but he seems to be able to get what he wants.  He likes playing in the dirt outside.  


Kira likes playing with our neighbor, Ethan.  In fact, all the kids light up when he's out front.  He seems to have all the cool toys and they play in the court for hours.  That's cool.


Scott is swimming with the Aquabears.  He goes out to Walnut Creek with Heidi and usually gets some fast food for the ride home, which he likes.  Heidi's been commuting in the truck, which I like.


I'm glad Blake's in a good mood here.  He seems to be having a hard time with life in general.  He gets upset but isn't able to articulate why, and it seems his fuse is pretty short anyway.  He hits things and tries to break them.  He can be so charming when he's in a good mood.


Tyler was excited about the results of his trick-or-treating.  He loves candy and likes to keep it just for himself.  He was bummed that his amazon costume didn't arrive.  Maybe it did and someone stole it off our porch.  I just think that's lame:  People selling their souls for a silly costume.


I keep my thoughts, philosophies, and goals on my other blog.  I just thought you would appreciate some photos of the kids in their costumes.  Okay, bye.