Thursday, August 25, 2016

End of Summer

The way we knew for sure was it was time to take Nathan back to school!  We had talked about all of us going down, but Nathan wasn't thrilled with a potential circus, and we wouldn't have been able to fit all Nathan's stuff plus all of us in the big van, so we would have had to take 2 minivans, and that seemed kind of crazy.  So instead Bob and I took him down by ourselves, and Luke manned the fort back at home.  It was so special to have the time just with Nathan, and honestly, it was really nice to not have to worry about finding tables for 12 for meals at crowded restaurants.
It was a lot easier to drop Nathan off this year!  He is excited about the new year, and about his roommates, who are friends of his.  We're already missing him though.
This cowgirl with an attitude has grown up this month! Since we got back from Ohio, she's been sleeping in the crib in Micah and Drew's room, so Bob and I finally have our closet back.  We had tried it before, but everyone was waking everyone else up, and it totally didn't work.  There have been a few rough times, bu overall it has been working really well now.  

Verity also has graduated from the high chair.  I haven't thrown it out yet, but I am looking forward to the day that I do, and we have that corner of our kitchen finally empty of a high chair after all these years in this house!

I've been busy making up syllabi for the new school year which starts sooner than I would like.  I'm teaching a regular biology class and life science, plus memory work, and I'll help out Christine with AP psychology.  I hope it will be an easier year, mentally, for me, without AP bio. 

I'm leading the Egypt unit for our other co-op, and that means another chicken is being mummified, just like I did back in August 2009.  Ah, memories. 

I'm also wading back into college admissions waters.  This year it's Luke's turn, so I've been updating transcripts and so on.  This year will be our first time to navigate the common app.  I'm thankful Christine took one for the team and did it last year!  For those of you who don't have access to Christine, another good place to look for answers on how to fill it out as a homeschooler, this thread on the WTM high school board is absolutely loaded with good information.  It has already answered one of our questions!

Although I'm not at all ready for summer to be over, it is, and now I need to get motivated for this year.  I told a friend, it's kind of like childbirth when you've had a lot of kids, and you're pregnant again.  You pretty much know exactly what to expect, and how it is going to feel.  You know you can and will get through it.  Once it starts, you'll deal with it.  But you really, really, really don't want to.  That's me right now! 

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Days of Peace and Quiet

Two years ago was a really, really difficult year.  Verity was born in September, she had all her nursing/weight gain problems, I had all Nathan's college application stuff, and I was teaching anatomy & physiology, life science, and Latin.  Last summer I was really pretty depressed and on the edge of a breakdown, at least as far as homeschooling was concerned.  Driving back to VA from Ohio was the hardest thing I've ever done because I just did NOT want to go back.  I was so done.

Then Bob's company paid for us to go to Vail for 4 days in September, and it was the most amazing time ever.  My parents came out to VA to be with the kids, and Bob and I were away, just ourselves, for the first time since I was pregnant with Jonathan in 2003.  I honestly think that weekend away was what allowed me to get through this last school year after being so depressed and numb during the summer.  I had no idea that I would be so refreshed by just a little time away where no one needed me, and I didn't have to do anything.  It was a gift from God.

Last Saturday, as we were driving home, we stopped to eat dinner with Nathan.  After dinner, Bob and the rest of the kids drove home, I dropped Nathan back off at WSS (remember, we left a minivan up there when we were driving out to Ohio the previous weekend) . . . and then I drove off all by myself to town!  I met my friend Carri (we were on staff at WSS together back in the glory days, lol, and we've kept up over facebook and even a visit to their house in KY through the years), and we had a lovely little slumber party at the Super 8!  She got there about 5 minutes after I did.  We started talking, and we kept right on talking.  Eventually we turned on the Olympics, but we continued talking.  We talked for awhile longer even after we turned out the lights!  And we started talking again before we actually got up Sunday morning.  In fact, we talked so much that we missed breakfast at the hotel, so we drove over to Denny's.  We got there around 9:45 . . . and we stopped talking at 12:00 when we realized we had missed church at the Springs, and we had better get on back there so we didn't miss Sunday dinner!

We both have 10 kids, and we are right there in the middle of the same struggles, with older kids as well as younger kids.  It was so nice to just talk about things with someone who knows what I'm feeling, and who just listens.  We both feel "done" with homeschooling--but of course we aren't anywhere near done, so we have to just buck up!

We sat at lunch with Christa, another friend from way back who has 8 kids and is also in the same boat.  We commiserated about feeling overwhelmed, constantly tired, etc.  It was absolutely lovely, and really, so encouraging.

After lunch, people picked up their junior staff kids and left.  And then . . . it was pretty much just me, along with all the senior staff, who were having a little end-of-summer retreat/clean the hotel session before they left on Tuesday.  See, we knew Nathan needed to get picked up on Tuesday, and I wanted to see Carri Sunday.  Bob was the one who suggested that I stay up at WSS all. by. myself. Sunday night through Tuesday, instead of coming home Sunday afternoon and driving back up Tuesday at lunch to pick up Nathan.  It sounded pretty extravagant to me, but wow--what an amazing gift!  Time to myself!
I went on long, quiet walks.  I didn't have to get back to check on anyone!  I read.  I think I finished 6 books, and none of them were school-related!  I rocked on the porch and gazed out at the trees and hills.  I made some lists and contemplated some curriculum changes for the girls.  I went into town Monday afternoon to use the coffee shop wi-fi so I could catch up on emails, and then I just drove around town, looking at old houses, since I didn't need to be anywhere.  It was lovely.

I really am quite introverted, and sometimes it is hard to live with so many people around me all the time.  But being able to recharge like this, all by myself, was really a good thing, and it hopefully will put me in a better frame of mind to get through this next school year, another one where I have to do all the admissions stuff, and deal with all the emotions of another kid graduating and heading off.  

Sometimes I try to think ahead to when all the kids have graduated, and it will just be peaceful and quiet around me all the time.  I know I'll miss the chaos and noise at least a little bit, and at least sometimes--but that's at least 16 years away, so it's hard to even really think too hard about it, lol.  In the meantime, I'm especially thankful for these brief little respites, and for a husband who is generous enough to see I need them!

Monday, August 08, 2016

Week of Fun and Family

We had a great week in Ohio!  We drove out last Saturday, dropping a mini-van off at WSS on our way for Nathan to use.  We rushed to get to Ohio because Saturday night I had a little mini-reunion with some people from my high school class!  We had such a nice time visiting and re-connecting.  I've heard people say they don't like facebook because they don't want to hear from people in the past, like high school, but I think this is one of the best things about facebook!  I liked my high school classmates, and I really enjoy seeing them and hearing what they are up to!  Plus, we ate Marion's pizza and had delicious cake that Jenny brought, so it was a total win!
Sunday was church and then rides in the old 1928 Model A Ford of my dad's.  Then, for a change of pace, we did facial masks, which was so fun.  Some Korean friends had given my parents the animal and Shrek masks (that's what my dad is wearing, in case you couldn't tell), but they only had 4 of them--not even enough for all 5 girls!  So Bob and I had to make an emergency trip to Walmart to get the blue masks as well.  That gave us enough for all who wanted their skin revitalized and refreshed!  It was a lot of fun, and Verity wasn't TOO scared.
Monday we wanted to go bowling, but we forgot that the bowling alley is (still) closed on Mondays.  Whoops!  So we headed to the park and brought Chick-Fil-A for a picnic lunch.  It was overcast but oh, so humid.  We melted!  Everyone except Verity had fun, and that's because she was being a total crab for some unknown reason.
Tuesday was Kids' Day at Youngs, so Grandpa, Uncle Jim, and Bob took everyone except Verity miniature golfing, which Micah and Drew loved.  Then Grandma, Aunt Claire, Verity, and I met them for lunch and ice cream, and of course the obligatory barn tour.  There was a goat who must have been due any minute with twins and looked extremely uncomfortable.  Poor mama!
This is the cutest picture of Verity with her adored older brother, Luke.  Luke got to try his hand at driving a stick shift Tuesday night when Grandpa let him drive the Model A!
Thursday we went back to the base bowling alley, which was open.  We took up 3 lanes, and everyone had fun.  The girls had gone last week, as past of Grandma/Grandpa camp, and Grace didn't have a very good time because she didn't do very well.  But this time she listened to some good advice from Uncle Jim, conquered her fear of being up there all by herself, and was thrilled to bowl a 98.  Next year, 100!
After we bowled 2 games and ate lunch, we were dismayed to discover our big van wouldn't start.  Bob ran over to the BX and bought jumper cables, and we got it started, but that was unsettling.
Thursday morning the big van once again wouldn't start, but we ladies went out to Mimi's for a lovely breakfast in 2 other vans, and the men all went out to First Watch in another van.  But when we all got back, getting the big van fixed because a top priority.  We decided it must be the alternator, because I was sure we had replaced the battery lass than 2 years ago.  But then my blog came in very handy--I knew we had gotten stuck at TNT when the big van wouldn't start, and Nathan and Isaac had to come rescue us.  But when I went back and read my blog entry, I realized the battery wasn't the issue then, and we didn't actually replace it.  So we ended up replacing the alternator and the battery.  My dad was able to get a garage to work on our van right away, which was a miracle, because the soonest appointments anywhere were the next Wednesday, and THAT wasn't going to work!

Thursday after we went to a local waterpark.  I used to go there with the older boys when we were stationed in Ohio, but it has really changed since then!  The kids had a really fun time.  Grace faced her fears and went down a really steep water slide as well as diving off the indoor high dive!  Anna did too, although she wasn't as initially scared.  We went at 3:00, which was perfect timing, as the daycares were all leaving!  I think Micah, Drew, and Verity had the best time though.  They loved the place!  It was good to get that much energy run off of them.
Friday we sadly had to say goodbye to Aunt Claire, Uncle Jim, Emily, and Elia, as they flew back down to Texas.  We had hoped our 3 girls could go to the airport with them to say goodbye, but sadly the van wasn't finished yet.  This did allow Bob to take Anna and Caleb to the Pass & ID place on base.  Anna never got her first ID card, even though she turned 10 in March, and Caleb's had been expired since February (and he looked like a toddler in his picture, lol).  We had called to make an appointment before we drove to Ohio, and the soonest appointment they had open was in September!  But when they walked in, there were only 3 people ahead of them, and they were back home in an hour!  It was such a blessing to be able to get that done there, because it is a real pain back in DC.
Friday night Luke and I stayed up late to finish this puzzle we had been working on.  I love doing puzzles--it's such a quiet activity!
Saturday morning we had to leave early so we could stop in PA and visit Bob's parents!  His sister Ann and her husband were there, as well as his brother Paul, and a little later his sister Jane stopped by.  She brought ice cream, which was a popular gift on a warm day!  We spent a few hours visiting there, and then we drove on to WSS where we picked up Nathan and took him out for pizza.  It was so good to see him--it's hard to believe his summer there is almost done!
So we had an absolutely lovely week of vacation, which of course ended way too soon.