The Winter Beach and the Wallaby

A few weeks ago I took the kids to visit my Aunt, and my cousin and his girlfriend, who are expecting their first baby. I am very close to my cousin, who is “Uncle Colin” to my kids, and his baby (its a GIRL) will be my first niece of sorts. They recently moved down to south NJ and we stayed for the weekend.

There were many fun adventures for the girls to go on but Markos wanted me to hold him all day, expect for when the huge puppy they recently adopted was around; he stuck his entire hand into the dogs mouth! We don’t own pets so I suppose he wanted to figure out what those teeth were! Thankfully, he is a big sweet dog and nobody got hurt (drool not withstanding).

 

Uncle Colin played his guitar for the girls, and I talked about having babies with Alysha, his girlfriend.

 

The next day, we went to the beach since it was only 20 minutes away from her house. It was cold, but that didnt bother the girls at all. Markos napped in my arms and in my Aunts arms, while the girls ran with the dog and collected bags full of seashells. There is something about the beauty and peacefulness of the ocean that always sets my heart at ease (despite my frown, the sun was in my eyes!).

 

Later, after we went back to my aunts house, we met her neighbors we had heard much about. It turned out that we actually have friends in common, it is a small homeschooling world. The girls played with their 8 year old daughter who gave details about their recent trip to India, and I was ecstatic to meet their pet WALLABY! (or “wallabean” according to my daughter) Here was this wallaby bouncing around their yard! I was

much more excited than the kids were. I was told that he was a rescue (who rescues freaking wallabies?) and he goes in and out a doggie door, and he enjoys peanut butter crackers. I love the wallaby, and hope to visit again haha!

It was a fun weekend, and I will update on more wallaby and dog adventures at Aunt.Pam’s house.

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Shalom.

 

 

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I Feel Lately Like…I Fail at Life

Pile of unfolded laundry on my bed. Mountains of half finished homeschool work on the table. A plastic cup with a sad little rock in water (“crystal growing project” for my 6yr old). A backpack filled with microbiology and chemistry books that I have not opened even half as often as should. Tempers flaring. Boobs hurting from 16 month old boob barnacle. You get the picture?

Lately, I want to throw up my hands. Raise the white flag. Surrender.

Everywhere my exhausted eyes look, I see evidence of my failure. Housework? Fail. Schoolwork? Fail. Parenting? Fail.

The truth is, I have overloaded myself. I have too much on my plate. I thought that I could do it all, but then life threw us some curve-balls. I was not expecting so little time to study, but situations have come up that we could not have known. My relationship with my mother, my once biggest support person, is terribly strained. I am not getting the breaks that I am used to.

I have lot of on my mind.

And, frankly…I am sick of being in college myself. Nursing has been my goal, and now I am on my last semester before nursing school. But, my heart is not quite in it anymore. I need to be focused on my kids, at home.

So, here I am. Feeling pretty fail-y. But still trying. Still getting up after 5 hours of “sleep” with my toddler’s boob death grip.

I can not wait for May!

 

Parenting an Angry Child

Let me start at the beginning.

I was so excited to have another baby. Soon, I would have two baby girls! My second child was my first natural birth. She was tiny! She opened her eyes and looked right into mine, and I fell in love right away.

At six months old, she would close her fists and her face would get red with anger if she didn’t want to be put in her carseat. I joked that she had the fiery temper of her Latina/Italian heritage.

She grew into the incredible, intelligent, strong 5 year old girl she is today. Long blonde hair, big brown eyes that turn into laughing half moons when she is happy. My beautiful girl whose name means “light of God”; Liora.

But, her anger has only grown with her age.

I have felt helpless, hopeless, desperate, and depressed. I have felt insecure, inadequate, and incapable.

I have held her strong little body as she flung her fists at me, raging at me until she collapses into a heap of sobs.

It could be smiles one moment, and rage the next. Playing one moment, hurting the next. Toys have been hurled at my head. Her finger nails have broken my skin. Her words have sunk into my heart like a knife; “I hate you”, “your not my real mother”, “you don’t love me, nobody loves me”.

Of course, I know it isn’t true. I know that she needs me more than she can express. I know she hates her explosive anger more than I do.

Lately, she has described her anger to me like this;

“My anger is a person who holds me down and wont let me walk away.”

“My anger is like a remote control.”

She wants walk away. She wants to be in control. She comes to me in tears after the anger flees her body and her true self is back in control; sorry. So sorry.

It impacts her big sister, who cries to me about why her sister isn’t nice.

It impacts her little sister, who is starting to imitate some of her behaviors.

We have gone to therapy, and tried many different things. Right now, we are focusing on being loving and firm. She needs those limits. She needs to understand that she cannot hurt people, even when she is really angry. But she also needs to know that she is LOVED.

It impacts her self image. Somtimes, she sees herself a bad kid. She thinks God doesn’t love her, neither do her parents. That breaks my heart more than any little fist she has thrown at me.

It is this impossible balance of love and discipline. It is this terrible fear of “am I doing the right thing for her?”

Raising a child who has explosive anger is a path I did not plan to walk, but here I am.

In my nightmares, she doesn’t get better. In my nightmares, she is 15 and hates me.

But, in my dreams she overcomes her emotions. She is strong and powerful, but gentle and kind. Despite her anger, she is deeply sensitive and loving. I believe in her, and I will never give up helping her.

For now, it is one day at a time.

Shalom.

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Letting Your Kids Get MESSY

Winter is winding down, slowly warming up for the newness of spring. Here in New Jersey, we had 6in of snowfall followed immediately by warm weather. Our backyard changed from a pile of snow, to a sheet of ice, to mushy mud galore.

So, what does a homeschooling family do when the weather magically turns from stuck-inside-freazing to welcome-spring-warm? Get MESSY of course!

Put those workbooks away kids, it’s time to play in the mud!

Some sad, unfortunate barbie mermaids were abandoned outside since summertime, the girl decided they needed a soapy bath.

Markos joined in the fun, playing with water and mud.

Everyone got a nice bath afterwards!

The joys of springtime are near 🙂

L

6 Awesome Things About Homeschooling

So, it is January 2018, and with the start of a new year comes renewed focus on our homeschooling goals. Although grade levels are basically irrelevant to us, I am currently schooling a 1st grader, kindergartner, and preschooler. Here are some of the awesome things that homeschooling has given to us this week.

1.) Bowling with friends counts as school-

We had some Hump Day fun with other homeschooling families at the local bowling ally. It was the first time my daughters played an entire game without loosing interest. If they went to public school/private school, we would not have been together in the early afternoon. I loved watching their excitement at hitting the pins, and it was nice to take a little break together. (The moms also had time together!)

2.) This is the age for art-

One of my beliefs about early childhood education is that art is just as important as any traditional subject. Children learn so much when given materials to create and explore with color. Imagination is important in our home! I think it’s awesome that I get to watch them create their masterpieces, rather than have them handed to me at the end of the school day.

3.) Dance like nobody is watching-

Similar to my conviction that art is extremely important for learning, I love taking my younger two daughters to dance class. It gives me time to hang out with my 1st grader and baby, while the middle two learn some new moves!

4.) Learning at their own pace-

My almost-7 yr old and my 5yr old girls are on the same reading level, but it really does not matter. At home, neither is behind or ahead, they are simply where they need to be. We can go further in some subjects, and take longer in others, according to their individual needs. Nobody gets left behind in homeschool, and nobody gets bored either!

5.) Sibling love-

I think it is really awesome that my children get to spend so much time together. They have a deep love for one another. Yes, they do fight sometimes! But, they are also best friends. One of my greatest desires as a mother is to see them maintain close friendships as they get older. I believe homeschooling helps foster that!

6. Freedom!

As a homeschooling family, we have a lot of freedom when it comes to how we learn, when we “do school”, and what tools to use to get there. I love being able to shape what our weeks, months, and years look like without being tied to a schedule that I did not create. I relish the educational and time freedom that homeschooling gives our family.

I Have FOUR Children, and I Know What Causes it!

“Do you know what causes that?”

“Wow, your hands are full!”

“Are they all yours?”

Lately, I have noticed more of these kinds of comments when I’m out with my four little darlings. Maybe it’s because school is in and we homeschool so our family stands out even more during morning trips. Maybe it’s because my youngest is getting close to 1 year old, and causing mayhem. Maybe it’s the line of three little girls behind me like ducklings!

In any case, I hear it often now. People are genuinely surprised to see four children together with their mother. The fact is, most of the women my age who I grew up with do not have any children yet or at most 1 or 2. I have a veritable gaggle of kids compared to most 2 kid families these days. There isn’t anything wrong with a small family. but my little team raises eyebrows!

We went to the YMCA this week (just me and the kids) and we went swimming. After we swam, and I herded all the kids into the dressing room, an older woman stopped me my exclaiming “ALL YOURS?” My oldest at 6 years old piped up “Yep! All of us!”

The woman then offered to hold baby brother so I could more easily assist the girls in getting out of their wet suits and into dry pjs (easy for bedtime!). She was very kind, and helpful. She didn’t hide her amazement but it wasn’t meant in a negative way. Not all people who express their shock over our family are negative about it!

I think four is the magic “big family” number. It tips the scales in our society. Going out for pizza becomes too expensive with four. Your minivan gets full with four carseats/boosters. Four kids make you want to cry at your grocery bill. Four is..four! A lot.

Yet, it doesn’t always feel like a lot to me. I am an only child, and I always loved how it felt to be in a big family home. I loved how there was always something going on and people around. It felt safe and comfortable. The girls are very good with baby brother, and are already asking for another boy.  I told them that I can’t pick a boy or a girl, much to their disappointment!

Maybe I should start to coach the kids on hilarious comebacks to the “hands are full” and “are they all yours” comments. All in good fun, of course!

In the end, I love our family size and can’t imagine it any other way; weird stares and all!

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Homeschooling While Going to College

This week marks the start of the homeschooling year and, I am back in college to earn my A.A in nursing. I’m going part time but the classes are difficult! After this semester, I have 2 more classes before I officially enter nursing school (that is when life will get even crazier).

On the home front, we have a 1st grader, kindergartner, preschooler and baby brother who tags along babbling at his big sisters and eating crayons!

We do traditional workbooks, but given their age and our lifestyle we are still pretty relaxed about homeschooling. I want our children to have the freedom to play and be creative for most of the day. I have seen our oldest, who was struggling with reading, really learn a lot from a class I put her in over the summer. It was the right move, because she gained the confidence she needed to start this school year off right!

As far as how I will be getting MY schoolwork done, that isn’t as easy. It comes down to the super powers mothers have to “just find a way”. You know you have it too! Whatever it takes, it gets done. My dream of becoming a nurse is still 3 years away, but if I can survive my addiction and thrive despite my mental illness, I can do anything.

The four little faces starting back at me give me all the motivation I need!

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