Sunday, September 23, 2018

Church Dance

Primary put on an adult only church dance.  I thought is was perfectly ironic.  I hate dressing up so went in my jeans of the day and some heals and off we went.  I don't know what came into me but as soon as  I entered the doors I was ready to dance. Filled with excitement and energy!  It was sooo much fun!  There were probably about 20 of us that were on the dance floor all night from Paul Krey in his 80's and never took a break and most of us who were waiting for our era of music of Britney and New Kids on the Block.

I felt like I was back in high school at Prom and we all had a great time.  I think the best part was that everyone who was there just felt so wanted, loved and supported.  I can't describe it but it was awesome.  In some strange way it was such a uniting activity.  People were dressed in their high school clothes, letterman jackets from the 50's and eager to tell me about making Varsity Football or a youth photo.

I was so happy for Stacie.  She worked so hard on the dance and it was a huge success!

Preparing for Conference

For some reason homeschooling has been good for me to be more gospel centered.  It is probably because my mornings are focused on my kids and family.  I don't usually do a great job preparing my kids for conference.  It is something I get so excited for but could definitely prepare our hearts and homes for their messages.

We were all talking about conference last night after our church dance which was soo much fun!  It got me so excited and I know it is going to be great.  My mother in law just sent me Saints.  Shawna was just telling me how she was reading this and it was so good.  It seems like an easy read so I am going to read it with the kids each night.  I also started running a little bit in the morning and listen to conference talks but I want us to listen to last conference together as a family each night.  It is so easy to put it on youtube and sit, listen and reflect. I usually plan and have a hard time following through a week later.  I can do it for 2 weeks.  Baby steps.  I am really excited for conference.  I know it will be a great, uplifting weekend and even better if we are prepared.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Everyday Life

Since I have not been working, it has been fun enjoying the everyday mundane joys of life.  We went to the dollar store and bought slime ingredients.  It created hours of fun and the kids enjoyed creating slime bubbles.  Hanna got a car for her birthday which has become one of our favorite and only toys in the home.  It reminds me of my parents home.  The kids rode one of those cars around their island for miles and miles.  Parker and Blake like to bring Kira around on it.  I think Scott had that thing figured out at 10 months but he had nobody to do it for him.  Just like Hanna had rocking herself in her carseat figured out at a couple of months. Her parents are now too busy to rock her.  Kids are adaptable.  Homeschooling has been great for our schedule.  I feel like we have the perfect balance of school, down time, play time and activities.  The small pockets of waiting for someone in a class or waiting for others to drop off have become these pockets of quality down time at parks which I am loving.  In some ways I feel like Scott and Tyler are in middle school world.  They are busy with friends and activities and pretty self sufficient.  Kira is in the middle of the two worlds and I have Blake, Parker and Hanna that remind me of my preschool days with Scott and Tyler.  It is pretty magical the second time around because I am treasuring it because I know how fast it goes.  I feel like homeschooling has given me that opportunity and it is exactly what we all need.

Saturday: Meet and Reservoir

When Kira and I went to her gymnastics meet which was pretty much an All day activity, Danny bought a new bike for Tyler.  A new-used bike is how we roll.  Then the 3 younger kids all went riding around the Lafayette Reservoir.  Tyler and Scott were at Camp Fetterman doing an 11 year old camp activity.  Scott volunteered and Tyler got a lot of requirements done. The kids all had fun.  It was nice for Blake and Danny to spend some time together because the past couple of months they haven't spent much time together.
Kira had her very first gymnastics meet on Saturday.  We went to Sacramento with two of her friends which was the BEST!!! She had so much fun sitting in the back, talking, playing, watching a movie.   It was probably the best part of the entire meet.  Kira likes gymnastics but her coach quit about 2 months ago and it has been a hard adjustment for her.  It was also a lot of fun for me to talk to moms on the ride.  They are cheer/STUNT coaches and really good at it so it is fun to talk coaching with them. Anyone who has talked to me lately is well aware that I have a burning desire in my entire being so see better developed sports programs in Brentwood.  A lot of athletes travel over the hill when they get to a certain level and I want to see that change.

Anyway, back to the meet.  She had a serious smile on her face most of the time.  I was really proud of her having fun with her teammates, cheering them on and enjoying the day.  Gymnastics is a more serious sport than swimming.  The kids don't talk as much as Kira would probably like so it was fun for her to be surrounded by teammates and cheering them on.  The girls all did great.  I was so proud of them.  They are a great group and a great group of parents.  

Straw Hat Field Trip

Parker is doing preschool 3x a week with Miss Tami.  It is AMAZING!  I have always done preschool co-ops with friends which I have loved, however, I am old and tired...LOL!  The break comes at the perfect time in the afternoon for me at 11:30 when I need to get the home cleaned up or when Blake needs quality time.  2-3 year old McMillan boys are the hardest for me.  They are non stop, energy filled and will run for hours.  Parker is fearless, he will climb fences and be off so unless I am watching him at all times. So I am energy filled from 8-11 in the morning with reading, playing, puzzles, painting, co-ops in the morning and look forward to 3 days that I get to be with just Blake.  Parker likes it.  His teacher said he has grown the most out of everyone because he has to work so hard to pronunciate for the other kids to understand him and actually plays with the kids instead of parallel to them now.  He is one of the youngest in the group and it has been so good for him.  Love it!

This was our first field trip with him PM class.  Blake got to come along which was really fun for him.  They got to play with dough.  Hanna liked to eat it.  Then they rolled their dough, put on the sauce, toppings and ate it up.  They all wondered where the dishes were in the dishwasher.  It was a super fun morning and the kids had a great time!  The moms had a great time too!

Kitchen remodel is done

Heidi should be the one to update this blog because she is home with the kids, but since she hasn't, I'm going to do it.  

Here are Scott and Tyler with some of the scouts at Camp Fetterman, a local property converted to use for scout overnighters.  

The $15,000 remodel.  You just can't beat the power of buying used appliances on craigslist.  Just the fridge would have been $8500.  There are lots of ways I'd rather spend $8500 and a fridge is not one of them.  I am most happy about the granite because the color and quality of installation were the best.  I'm least happy about the cabinets because of the quality of the paint.  I would have gone with black, like Britton, but Heidi wanted white.  Happy wife = happy life. 

Let's not forget my hand-made Eastern black walnut table.

Labor day family picture, sans Kira, before the meltdowns.  Kira was in Tahoe with her cousins.

Four McMillan brothers, circa 2018

Tyler had his 11th birthday.  He can be so charming.  Generally, he's grateful for the gifts we get him and he doesn't seem to care what brand he owns.  He is the opposite of "keeping up with the Joneses."  Other times, he's quite effective at getting Kira and Blake riled up. 

That's all.  Have a nice day.  That's what Trump said to the victims of Hurricane Florence. 

Sunday, September 2, 2018

3 Day Weekend

Kira got invited to go to Tahoe with Paisley which I know is going to be so fun for her.  They went on a ropes course, boating and floating down the River.  What a special time she will have with her cousins and Heather and Jay.  So grateful for their generosity and including her.  Plus, sometimes it is a much needed break from her brothers.  She and Tyler love to get on each others nerves so I felt like this came at the perfect time.

Usually we go away for Labor day since I love taking advantage of days off but this year we didn't.  Instead I just wanted to do day trips or activities and I am so glad that we did.  Sometimes I am tired from sleeping in hotels with a baby and six kids and tired from just being away that I feel like I need a vacation from a vacation.  

One day, the kids all hung out and played during the day and then Danny needed to go do something at a Stake baptism so I took the kids to pump it up and McDonalds.  We were going to go to La Costa but they wanted to keep playing so we went to McDonalds.  It was the smallest, simplest little outing and they had a blast.  We were gone for hours and they all had a great time.  The following day we had friends over from church.  It was totally last minute and we decided to host a dinner.  We went to the golf course and hung out.  Blake had a hard time for some of it.  I realized sometimes a lot of noise really bothers him.  Kind of like Danny and he just needs down time sometimes and we didn't really have that.  It was loud but I think everyone had a great time.  We went to golf course after dinner and that was so nice.  It was the perfect weather out and we had a good time.

Tomorrow we are going to San Francisco.  We are going to leave early so we can get back in time to get Kira and enjoy a relaxing afternoon.  I am excited.  A mix of a little bit of everything.  Something I inherited from my mom is feeling guilty for not doing a lot.  Making the most of time off.  Sometimes I think that is going, going, going.  But I have realized that down time is good.  Quiet time is good.  Quality time is good.  That isn't always going somewhere else or somewhere far.  Sometimes I still feel that pressure that we need to do something more extravagant or we are waisting days off but I realize that is crazy.  I just need to retrain my brain.

First Month of 2018

The kids started school a month now and so far it has been going well.

Scott is in 7th grade at Adams and doing well.  He got B lunch which he was excited about.  It is a little later and he seems to have some good friends in it.  His favorite class by far is Jazz Band which is nice.  He gets to play the piano and is really enjoying it.  He seems to be liking his classes.  The first two weeks are always busy because swim is still going on and the kids need to go out to Dana Hills in the afternoon.  He is in advanced math which is more challenging for him so he seems to be excited about not being so bored.  His favorite school subject is social studies.  He always talks about how nice his teacher is and says it is interesting but then when I ask him what he learns he says something along the lines of nothing, it is just a cool class.  LOL!  He still continues to be hard working and responsible.  He doesn't seem to worry as much as last year which is nice.  If he didn't do perfectly last year it would stress him and now he seems more at peace.  At the same time he doesn't think it is cool to be a "try hard" as he calls it.  Someone who try's hard in all that they do.  We had a talk about how no matter what other people think is cool or not, we are all only given limited time to learn, grow and develop and that we should use that as gift to become the best that we can become. Overall, he seems happy.  He enjoys hanging out with friends.

He started Seawolves swimming which has been an adjustment.  He was really looking forward to being with his great friend, Summer.  Summer is in another group with just a couple other kids.  Scott is in a group that he is one of the older kids but has a couple of younger kids or kids his age who work hard, seem nice and who I think will be a good fit for him.  He went into it deciding it wasn't going to be as fun as Dana Hills or Aquabears but at least really excited to be with summer and when that didn't go as planned, he wasn't happy! He pouted for a couple of days but with time seems to be having a better attitude.  I talk to him about how teammates and coaches really love to be around happy people.  People who are positive. Not unhappy people.  I know that in time, he will enjoy it and it will be a good fit.  It is soo nice being able to ride his bike to practice on most days. Some days it is 5 minutes away. Even socially being able to be at friends houses or do cross country, come home to eat and then head to practice.  I know it is the right decision and I am excited for him and our family.  My theme for this year is simplicity and I know this will make our life simpler.

It is Tyler's first year in middle school.  He was pretty nervous his first day.  I didn't realize how nervous he was until he wrote a letter for his english class that talked about his feelings.  He decided not to do PE.  He was signed up but after talking to Ann and Tyler, I realized that PE would probably not make him feel good and something that he really didn't want to do it. We got a letter sent from cardiology, Danny met with the VP to do a health plan for his heart condition and he was removed.  He did band for the first time this year.  A lot of kids did it in fifth grade so he was pretty nervous about doing something new when other kids would already know what was going on.  The first 2 weeks were pretty miserable for him in band.  He wanted to quit.  He didn't want to have anything to do with band.  He played any note but really didn't know what he was doing.  He was too scared to ask questions. We spent a couple of hours practicing before his first recording with a lot of doubt but in the end he did it was was so excited!  He had the opportunity to play a solo for his class the next week and got so much praise and felt so good about himself.  Music could be so good for him.  I need to help him foster that.  He is learning to be more responsible.  He is not the most organized student.  The first two weeks we had to go back to adams a couple of times to get things he forgot.  He would forget to write down what he was supposed to do or what color to highlight certain things for homework.  So we are learning to be more responsible, to ask questions when he needs help.

One thing I love about Tyler is he is confident in who he is.  He doesn't really care about what other kids think of him or a group he should hang out with.  He is good friends with Tyler and Brennan which is so nice. They are good kids.  He and Brennan are in the same class which is nice.  One day he was invited to a birthday party which I knew wasn't many kids because their dad was bringing a car load to Boomers.  When I asked Tyler how he knew the boy he said that he was in his class and they were gong to play tag at recess and he saw him sitting at the lunch tables and asked him if he wanted to play with them. Tyler is kind and wants everyone to be included.  I love his confidence in who he is.

Kira is in 3rd grade and is doing well.  School comes easy for her.  She is a very diligent learner.  She gets her homework on monday and will get it done and some.  She has become good friends with a new friend.  Instead of having the same friends every year, she seems to make a new friend or friends from her classes each year.  I think some of that is from not having play dates that much.  One thing with working in Walnut Creek the past two falls is that I haven't made time for them to have friends over so I really want to do that this year.  Scott and Tyler are at the age that they automatically do that.  They get on their bikes or phones and arrange getting together with friends.  Usually it is playing basketball or hanging out.  Kira seems to hang out with very confident, social girls but I worry that she can be bossy and exclusive.  I ask her about hanging out with other girls at school and she usually just likes hanging out with a couple friends but when a friend wants to hang out with someone else she gets her feelings hurt.  We talk a lot about hanging out with everyone and included everyone.  I met her teacher this week when I picked her up early to go to Tahoe and she seemed really nice.  Kira seems happy.

Gymnastics has been really stressing her. I thought it was because of meets but then a meet came and she enjoyed it and looked forward to it.  She just seems burnt out from so many hours at the gym.  When it is time to go to gymnastics she isn't excited.  She cries when I drop her off.  We pick her up early before conditioning and that makes her feel better.  I told her to finish the meet season which is about another month and then she can choose what she wants to do.  I am kind of glad that she realizes that she doesn't love it.  Gymnastics is so many hours and it is hard to have a normal life with being at the gym for 20 hours a week in elementary school.  She is so talented and I want her to love what she does and it is obvious that she just doesn't love it anymore.  We are missing one meet because it is Sunday and another meet because we are on a cruise so really she only has two or three meets.  Even those I am not looking forward to because they are far and hard to do with the other kids.  The one thing that is nice about swimming or track or other sports is that multiple kids can all go to the same meet and compete.  I now know why big families do those sports.  She really liked swim and wants to try diving and some other sports.  Part of me wonders if I should just let her quit now but I think competing will be a good experience for her.  To realize that it is just for fun and realize to finish out what she starts.

Blake was in first grade.  The first day of school went well but as school went on, he started to refuse to go.  It is like this anxiety that builds up to the point that he wouldn't get out of the car, he wouldn't go into school.  It was horrible.  It gave me anxiety in the morning.  I stayed calm because I knew he needed that but I dreaded the mornings.  Somedays he would wake up and be fine and other days I knew that no coaxing, bribing, etc would get him to go to school.  I didn't fight it.  It just wasn't worth it.  I just felt so bad for him.  I didn't know if it was something I should force or not.  I started praying and talking to people and realized that maybe the best thing for him was just to spend more time at home in a relaxed and happy environment where he felt safe.  I went back and forth of if that would help or if he just needed to learn to push through and get over his anxiety.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that he just needs personal attention.  We started reading together and learning at home and it was magical. Not just for Blake but also for Parker and Hanna and me.  The mornings turned into reading books, writing books, playing with friends.  All the things that Blake really needed.  He talked about how he wanted more friends and more playdates and I know that is what homeschool would allow him to do that traditional school would not.  I talked to a lot of people and the more people I talked to, the more I realized how good this could be for him.  I called Vista Oaks to see if there was room in the charter school and there was.  It was like all the pieces fell into place.

The last two weeks have been magical!! I didn't love home schooling with Scott.  It was a good learning experience and I am glad I did it, but I felt like he was missing out on being with his friends and missed them.  I don't feel that at all with Blake.  He is going to go to Vista Oaks once a week and a yoga class after, do a co op with a couple of families once a week, a clay class once a week, and tennis which he has begged to do for a couple of months.  He has play dates with a neighbor who is in second grade and started homeschooling this year.  So many of my friends started homeschooling this year for various reasons from their kids being advanced and bored, liking more quality time, liking more control of curriculum or just love the added time it allows you to have with kids.  Really, I feel like Blake is benefiting from it all.  He gets to do all these fun activities that sadly after school we are just sometimes too busy to do.  He gets to have more time to do playdates with just his friends whether it is at our home or at a park with friends.  Sometimes it is nice to have playdates before the other kids are home.  He gets more quality time with me.  Learning one on one is so great. He learns at his pace and level.  We get to read for over an hour a day.  It isn't all at once but for me some of the best parts of the day are just sitting in his little reading corner and reading with him and Parker and Hanna.  We cook, we do fun projects.  I love first grade learning and love having more time with him before everyone else gets home.  I honestly would love for him to continue home schooling if that is what makes him happy and what works for us.  We will see how his activities go this week and next.  I am sure he is going to have his good moments and hard moments, but I think that being in a smaller setting will be good for him.

I had him do water polo.  I asked him if he wanted to do it and he said something like sure, but I really want to do tennis.  I signed him up for water polo.  He did the first day and didn't want to go back at all.  He said the water was too cold but in reality I think he was just anxious.  We went and watched almost the entire practice and he said he just wanted to play tennis.  I don;t know if tennis will be any different but decided that I was going to listen to him more.  He has been saying that for a while now so maybe that is really what he wants to do.  I am grateful I found a homeschool group that a couple of friends are doing.  I think it will be a great place to start. He has done tennis before with the coach and he is awesome so I am excited but at the same time not holding my breathe.

In many ways, this is the year for Blake.  For several years he has been on the back burner.  I have been in Walnut creek and he hasn't been able to do things for him.  I haven't even been home to read to him.  Some babysitters are better than others but it still isn't mom.  I am excited for quality time with him.  I am excited he gets to do activities.  I am excited for him to just not be rushed and just have more time to be a kid. It is so great to have the option to do what I feel is right for my kids.  No two kids are the same and I know Blake is happier at Vista Oaks than he is at Krey.  If I pushed Krey, I do feel with time and tears, he would have eventually gone consistently and done fine but I don't think he would have truly been happy.  All last year we would pick him up and I could just feel the stress from him of being in school.  He tried so hard, he wanted to do things just right, he would hold in his frustrations.  He is so serious and in some ways a perfectionist and I really feel this is how this year would have gone.  He would have done fine, but I don't think he would have been his happiest or been the place where he would do his best.  I am grateful for the spirit.  I really do feel like when we pray and listen, the best unfolds.

Parker is going to Miss Tami's 3x a week for preschool which has been amazing.  He is still pretty young but I wanted him to go to preschool just for the social outlet and to have something good and wholesome built into his day a couple of times a week.  I didn't know Blake would be homeschooling.  I didn't know only PM would be available but it all worked out perfectly.  In mid morning, it alllows me to do some things with Blake or get things done before the other kids get home when Blake is playing with friends.  It is that time of the day that we all just need a couple hours to regroup.  He seems to like it.  He is a rule follower in some ways.  When I pick him up he makes sure I stand at the edge and wait for the teacher to call his name because one time he had to go back because he didn't get his name called yet.  Since then he has made sure not to do it any other way.  He gets out of the car and sometimes wants to go all alone.  He is so proud to show me all the things that he does that week and seems to be having a good time.  He is still young and naughty I am sure.  The other kids I think like doing the academics and he is not there and that is totally fine.  I am happy he is playing with his kids his age and learning to sit and interact.

Hanna is wonderful!  God sent me this perfect sixth child.  She is easy going, looks deep into my soul as if she knows what I need and just the best baby.  I am so grateful for her.  I am grateful for the time that Blake and Parker and I have with her in the mornings.  I am grateful for what a good baby she is.  She stands up now and likes to walk around with you holding her hands.  She is so proud of herself.  It is so cute.  She has the best smile.  I am so grateful for her and humbled at the grace of God for giving me a wonderful gift.  She truly is a gift and I know without a doubt she was meant for our family.