Sunday, September 30, 2012

Lincoln's Heroes 2012 Edition

We arrived bright and early Saturday morning at the Tempe Diablo Stadium to participate in Sharing Down Syndrome's Walk for Down Syndrome. Our family had a lot of fun last year, so we were amply excited to go again--especially Bree. And this year Lincoln was old enough to know that we were at a big, fun event. The older kids jumped right into the nearest bouncy castle when we got there, while we hung out with Lincoln, trying to stay in the shade.

The stroller couldn't keep him happy for long though.

He got quite  a lot of attention, what with being an adorable, tiny little man wandering around on his own.

While Lincoln was exploring, Bree and Mason tried their hands at the various carnival booths.

And they were AMAZED to see that Spider Man was there.

Then Lincoln started getting cranky, so Chad put him on his shoulders. That little arrangement didn't last long. Lincoln wouldn't leave his hat or his sunglasses alone.

Lincoln was getting hotter and crankier by the minute. At 9:15am it was 90 degrees. A free Jamba Juice smoothie helped. It was also the first time Lincoln successfully drank from a straw (so that's the secret; he just hasn't been dehydrated and overheated with previous straw attempts!).

The smoothie kept him happy for like four minutes. We tried free Blue Bunny ice cream next.

That kept him relatively quiet while the other kids got painted tattoos (that's my friend Amy's daughter on the left).

At this point we were purposely skipping the actual walk portion of the festivities because A) It was very hot, B) Lincoln was losing it, and C) They were making people actually out of the stadium and along a path of considerable distance, which is not what we signed up for (how dare they expect us to walk at a Walk, right?). Now I must add D) We are lame and lazy.

One of the highlights of hanging out by the tattoo booth is that we got to meet Gina Johnson, the founder of Sharing Down Syndrome, and one of the most amazing people I've ever met.

We were so glad that Adam and Heather could be there with us, my friend Amy and her family came again, and my cousin Jennifer and her girls came too. We are so grateful to everyone who has shown their love for us and for Lincoln!

Lincoln is appreciative too, despite the fact that he's screaming in this picture

(ABC did a local news story about the walk, which was neat to watch)

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Turtle Encounter

The kids had been going a little stir-crazy this week, so Thursday my mom and I took them to the zoo. Having season passes is great--we let the kids choose what they want to see, and we don't stress about "getting our money's worth."

I let Bree navigate the map, you know, so we could count that as home school geography time. And we learned about all kinds of animals, so that's science. Field trips are awesome.

It gets hot early in the morning in Phoenix, so we tried to stay in the shade. The kids asked me to take their picture by the Komodo Dragon, as usual, even though that metal statue was burning their buns.

But the big highlight of the day was the Turtle Encounter exhibit. The turtles just climb right out of the pond, and walk up to you!

You can feed them whatever you have on hand (protein bars, the lid from your water bottle), and they'll eat right out of your hand while your mother cringes. You can teeter dangerously close to the water's edge to peer into its murky depths. And it's all included in the price of admission!

Sweet turtle memories.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Bree has never shown much interest in sports. She's always replied "No" when we ask if she'd like to play soccer, basketball, or tee-ball. But that all changed a few weeks ago when our family headed to the track (Chad to run, me to push the stroller around, and the kids to play on the field). We had brought along a few toys, including a soccer ball. Bree spent quite a lot of time kicking the ball around the field by herself. She ran and ran, breathing hard, and with a big smile on her face. As we headed home, she announced, "I'm good at soccer!" So this time when we asked if she wanted to play on a soccer team, she replied, "Yeah!"

The first soccer practice was a little chaotic--our family was at the doctor's office waiting for Mason to get a splint for his probably-broken wrist. I had to leave Chad and the boys there while I took Bree to the soccer fields (our second vehicle was in the shop). The fields were hectic, and I was lucky to find Bree's team, since I couldn't even remember her coach's name. I left her there to warm up with the other kids, and headed back to the doctor's office to pick up the rest of the family. By the time I got back, found Bree's team, took Mason to the bathroom and back, practice was over. It was getting really windy and threatening to rain. So I didn't really get to see Bree practice much, but she said she had a lot of fun.

The second practice was much better. The weather was gorgeous and cool, and Bree worked on some core skills.
Like dribbling

And heading

She also has very adoring fans

Her team even won its first game, which was not nearly as painful to watch as I had anticipated.

We are so proud of Bree, her hard work, and her great attitude on the field. Go Blue Sharks!

Recipe for a broken wrist

Start with a four-year old boy,
add unlimited energy,
mix in the inability to sit still while doing anything,
toss in some reckless abandon,
and stir thoroughly in a rolling, swiveling desk chair.

I didn't see it happen, but the screaming fell into the "I'm actually hurt" category. He said, "I jumped off the arm of the chair." I don't know how he managed to stand on the arm of the desk chair in the first place, but that's Classic Mason for you. After an hour passed, and he was still complaining of pain and still babying his wrist, I called the doctor. He got a splint that evening, an x-ray the next morning, and had to wait until Monday to get a cast.

While we waited for the doctor, I asked him what color cast he wanted. He said, "purple." I told him, "No, Daddy said no pink or purple." He replied, "Maybe violet?"

I convinced him that blue was the next best thing.

He gets a lot of sympathy for the cast, and when people asked him what happened, he sighs, looks down, and melodramatically says, "I jumped off a chair." I tell them to not be fooled by his act. The cast has in no way slowed this kid down.

His wrist may be broken.

But his ability to jump off furniture is still intact.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Monday Letters

Dear Claypool Walmart,

I don't agree with your choice to become a wanna-be-Super-Walmart. I didn't need another grocery store. What I need is a store with a decent selection of home furnishings, and I resent the fact that I now have to travel over 60 miles to get that. However, I am in love with your bakery's donuts. I am loyal to Fry's and Safeway when it comes to my groceries. But they cannot beat your raised donuts.

That being said, I take issue with the creative license that your bakers have been taking with flavors. I'm a well-seasoned donut-eater, so I know a Bismark when I see one. When a donut is a solid circular shape with chocolate frosting, there should be vanilla custard inside. Today I was surprised to find caramel filling oozing out of my counterfeit Bismark. It wasn't inedible, but it was definitely not what I wanted. And when has a maple bar EVER had filling in it? My son's maple bar had the vanilla custard that should have been in my Bismark (by the way, he promptly spit it out, because all fillings are disgusting).

So please, either label your donuts, or stick to the basics. I would appreciate it.

Disappointed Donut-Eater


Dear Hope Family Care,

I apologize for the unscheduled takeover of your waiting room this morning. I hoped my children would be engrossed enough in the video on my laptop so that I could get my allergy shot without completely disrupting the office. I realize that was a gross miscalculation on my part.

I'm sorry my toddler dropped your arterial thermometer on the floor. I think I put it back together correctly.

I'm especially sorry that my 4-year-old puked up his granola bar all over the waiting room floor. Please give Billie a raise, because no receptionist should have to clean barf off the floor.

Mortified Mother

Friday, September 21, 2012

Bonds that Make Us Free

This month, for our book club selection, I read Bonds that Make Us Free: Healing Relationships, Coming to Ourselves, by C. Terry Warner. This book is a life-changer. 

Bonds That Make Us Free: Healing Our Relationships, Coming to Ourselves

Because I was reading a copy that belonged to Kathleen (my friend in the club who chose this book), I was not able to mark or highlight the pages the way I was itching to. Instead I jotted down what I felt were the most important points in the book; most of it verbatim. And it turned into quite a long post! I will probably just end up purchasing this book, as I think everyone in the world should.

At any rate, for anyone who has every quarreled, been hurt or offended, held a grudge, or felt they should be happier, (in other words, everyone) here's what this book is all about.


Self-betrayal occurs when we go against our personal sense of how we ought to be and act. (e.g., You notice that the car is almost out of gas. You instinctively feel you should fill the tank so your spouse won't have to tomorrow. But you don't.). It's less about right vs. wrong (because we can twist those concepts to work in our favor), and more about listening to the light that is inside of us, and the personal obligations we feel towards each other, soul to soul. "Sin is anything you cannot do wholeheartedly."(Baal-Shem)

Self-betrayal puts us "in the box." Living in the box means being convinced that other people and our circumstances are responsible for our feelings and our helplessness to overcome them. This leads us to start blaming and making excuses in order to rid ourselves of responsibility. We become self-absorbed.

When we betray ourselves, we undergo a transformation. By seeing others suspiciously, accusingly, or fearfully, we ourselves become suspicious, accusing, or fearful. By no longer seeing them with care, delight, and generosity, we cease to become caring, delighted, and generous. The kind of people we are cannot be separated from how we interpret the world around us.

After self-betrayal, we act in an I-It manner towards others--seeing them as objects who exist for our use/our own agenda. They can be obstacles, vehicles, or irrelevant. The term I-It is one word because the way we see others is inseparable from how we, ourselves, are. If we are thinking of others as real persons, with genuine concern for who they are, we are in an I-You manner. (This concept comes from Martin Buber)

Three aspects of the self-betrayer's conduct:
  1. accusing others
  2. excusing oneself
  3. displaying oneself as a victim
For example you can't accuse someone else of being at fault without simultaneously expressing that you're suffering because of them.

We can't feel justified in withholding kindness from others (kindness which we know, deep down we should be giving, hence the self-betrayal) unless we find, or invent, some reason why they deserve it.

When we are in the box, our behavior will put others on the defensive, and they will be in their own box. Both of us will view words and actions in a skewed way, and the offenses and self-defenses will go around and around (which the author calls collusion).

Once we betray ourselves, accuse others, and box ourselves into the victim's role, we no longer see things the way they really are. In self-betrayal, our moral sense or conscience becomes untrustworthy. In the darkness of our self-absorbed, suspicious thoughts and feelings, we cannot discern the way forward. Our conscience then serves to support the lie we're living.

Some styles of self-betrayal:
  • Self-Assertiveness ("I need to look out for myself")
  • Self-Righteousness/Martyr-hood
  • Childishness (loudly complaining)
  • Perfectionism (to convince self of worth)
  • Self-Disparagement (This one is the most difficult to recognize; the person says "I'm just not any good," using it an excuse, a strategy for evading responsibility)

When self-betrayers accuse others and make themselves miserable, they don't do it maliciously. A real fear motivates them--a real fear of something that is not real (e.g., fear of being a monster, or fear of being condemned by others). If we understand how threatening the world seems to them, we will set ourselves free of our accusing, judgmental attitude. Understanding self-betrayal and self-victimization can soften our accusations of others, open us to acceptance of their efforts, and enable us to let go of our accusing attitudes and emotions.

As long as our hearts are wrong, we can't do right. Going through the "right" motions while we still have self-betrayal in our hearts will fool no one. Other people are not taken in by our self-deceived, counterfeit actions.

How to get out of the box

The boxed-in world we experience as self-betrayers offers us opportunities to submit in humiliation or to stick up for ourselves defiantly, which are both self-absorbed actions. But it offers us no chance of simply doing the right thing without concern for ourselves. We cannot trust our perverted conscience, but rather we must look for what is true (another person's innate worth or their genuine needs and feelings), and listen to the light inside of us (a reality from God that guides us in how we ought to respond). Only then will we experience a change of heart.

We must let ourselves be affected by light coming from others, or in other words, by the truth concerning what they are feeling (rather than our skewed assumptions about their motives). In order to do this, we have to be in an I-You mentality, because once we stop thinking about ourselves, we open ourselves to be touched and humbled by the truth and reality around us. We need to:
  • Be open and searching, and allow ourselves to be influenced. 
  • Ask ourselves, "Might I be in the wrong?" Simply by asking this question truthfully, we have already taken the first step out of the box. If we do not suspect ourselves of having been wrong, our search for what is right won't be completely sincere. The discovery that we are responsible for our troubles does not condemn us, but opens up a way of escape.
  • Waive our demand for justice (we excuse them because once we focus on ourselves and our own faults, we no longer think they owe us anything)
  • Live truthfully and considerately
  • Let go of blame. Blame is the lie by which we convince ourselves that we are victims. It is the lie that robs us of our serenity, our generosity, our confidence, and our delight in life.
  • Do the right thing. Not doing right when we know what's right is doing wrong. We should do the right thing in response to another's need with concern, compassion, or love. If we lack concern, compassion, and love, we should still do the right thing because it is right.
  • Abstain from whatever ails you (criticism, anger, self-pity, self-disparagement). Treat those actions as addictions you must free yourself from.
Relapses do happen, and can be drastic. Pride can quickly derail our path. We can choose how to handle our relapses, and those choices, those responses are as important to our well-being as our initial change of heart.

Past relationships with others who were also inside the box (collusive relationships), can continue to influence us, sometimes without us being aware. We must trace our long-running emotional and attitudinal habits to their source, and root them out ("unfinished business"). Unless we do, we shall never fully get rid of current collusive relationships that afflict us. Our current emotional problems are the accusations we make of others now. They are not scars from the past, but actions in the present--actions of portraying ourselves as having been scarred in the past.

We cannot alter past events. We cannot take responsibility for things that happened to us. But we are responsible for the effect they have upon us--for the meaning we assign to them and the way we remember them. And we can learn and grow from them. Whether past pain blesses or crushes us is ours to decide. Tragic events in life can be extremely hard, bringing with them the worst human suffering. But they are not excuses. Blaming "the way we are" on events in our past is self-betrayal.


With this new view of what causes our hurt or offended feelings, we take a new approach to the concept of forgiveness.
  • Forgiveness concerns our wrongdoing, not theirs (our failure to treat them as we ought, finding fault, or refusing to forgive them).
  • Our act of forgiving consists of repenting of this wrongdoing of ours (ceasing to accuse)
  • When we cease to accuse them, we cease to feel there's anything on their part that needs to be forgiven.
Genuine forgiveness includes a desire to be forgiven and, if it is fitting, to seek that forgiveness, without requiring an apology. Our actions cannot depend on what others do, or else it is not genuine forgiving. We also need to strive to not take offense in the first place, thus forgoing self-betrayal. If forgiving can be thought of as a recovery from moral and emotional illness by means of a change of heart, forgoing is never falling morally and emotionally ill in the first place (it's a prevention rather than a cure).

Instead of seeking the "good life," seek a "life of goodness." Our quality of life depends on the the choices we make, moment by moment, to do exactly what we sense is right toward all living things, including God. The most valuable personal characteristic we need to cultivate is a constant readiness to yield to the truth in all circumstances, no matter what the cost.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


(During today's history lesson)

Me: When the Egyptian priests turned a body into a mummy, what did they do first?

Bree: They cut open the body, and took out its lungs.

Me: And its stomach, and liver, and...

Bree: Testicles.

Me: Intestines.

Bree: Right. Intestines.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

What am I known for?

I recently read something that resonated with me:

"I meet a lot of parents who are anti-this, or anti-that. You know the type. The ones who are known by everyone for what they’re against, rather than what they’re for.
Don’t be those parents." (Noah's Dad blog)

The author is commenting on those types of parents who look down on moms like me for feeding my kids fast food, allowing TV and video games at a young age, and using sweets (as a reward, no less--gasp!). The disapproving moms and dads are out there, exclaiming, "I would NEVER feed my child a Happy Meal," "We don't allow refined sugar in our house," and "Television is detrimental to a young child's development ." And with each statement comes the implicit message, "I'm obviously a better parent than you." We all know parents like that. I just hope I'm not a parent like that. There are, of course, things we don't allow our kids to do (e.g., jump on the furniture)/ consume (e.g., caffeine)/ be exposed to (e.g., movies with anything but a very mild PG rating). And it's okay to be against things. I just don't want to be known for what I'm against.

For example, I often get self-conscious when talking to other parents about our family's choice to homeschool. Because the absolute last thing I want to imply is that public schooling is somehow inferior. I'm not against public school. For us, it was simply a matter of examining what values are most important to us, and how we could ensure our children's' education while best honoring those values.

So that brings me to the question: when it comes to parenting, what am I for? I thought about it briefly, and came up with a rough list.

  • Kindness
  • Faith in God
  • Family
  • Knowledge
  • Fairness
  • Empathy
  • Creativity
  • Hard Work
  • Fun
  • Respect
  • Moderation
I want others to know that these are the things I'm for. If our family's values are clear, then the motivations behind our family's choices should be pretty clear too. For example, while I don't claim that my methods of teaching respect are the absolute best, I hope it's clear to others that I value respect, and am actively trying to instill it in my children.

I imagine that my list is similar to most other moms' lists out there. The fact that our methods differ is immaterial.

That's the bottom line: our methods are different, not inferior or superior. We're all just doing the best we can. I believe that to go above and beyond, we should be constantly searching for ways to do things better, to be better parents than we were last week. Because we all want the same result: children who will become adults who value the same things we do.

That's all we're trying to do. Raise stellar adults.

No pressure. Nope, none at all.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Goal #27: Surprise Date Night

Usually when Chad and I go on a date, it's a last-minute affair. And this was no exception. But, since I was surprising Chad, he was none the wiser. It was a Saturday, and Chad was due to get home from work at 5:00pm. I desperately tried to find a sitter at whose house I could drop the kids off (so I could start the date the moment Chad walked in the door). But I had to settle for a sitter who could be at our house in time for us to catch the 6:15 movie. I did time it so that the kids and I were out of the house picking up pizza for dinner when Chad got home. I left him a note that said, "Shower and wear something nice." He probably didn't expect the kids to be with me when I came in with dinner, but I assured him that the sitter would be there soon. He was just excited that I had surprised him. We went to see "The Dark Knight Rises," which I really enjoyed (I must add the disclaimer that when I'm in a good mood, my movie or book reviews are always more favorable).

The date wasn't elaborate, but it was special because I planned it in secret, and Chad didn't have to participate in the pre-date decision-making that always seems such a huge chore (Which sitter is available? What should we do? Should we eat? See a movie? Try to discover some other thus far undiscovered source of entertainment in Globe?). It was a really fun night. And who knows? Maybe Chad will reciprocate some time in the future.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Tomorrow! Tomorrow!

The sun'll come out tomorrow.
So your bottom better hang on 'til tomorrow.


Sunday, September 9, 2012


Goal # 23: Don't eat out (or take out) for a month

I started implementing this on August 12th. My motivation for this goal was my desire to make and stick to a meal plan, organize my pantry and freezer, and make purposeful shopping lists. I also knew it would save us money, if I could plan meals that would take advantage of sales. And it would help us eat healthier too. So win, win,, win.

It has gone really well. Initially I spent a lot of time entering our favorite healthy recipes into my new profile at I looked a few different meal planning sites with shopping-list-generating capabilities, and this one works quite well for being free. (If only I had the money for an iPhone, then the world of amazing apps could be mine...). So, after entering ingredients for 20 recipes, I pasted those meals into my calendar, and voila! It made me a shopping list with everything I needed to make meals for the next two weeks (obviously I returned the following week to stock up on fresh veggies and fruits). It has taken a lot of the stress out of preparing meals. I don't know why, but I have a really hard time deciding what to have for dinner. This way, I spend only one horrific day making all the awful decisions, and I'm good for two weeks.

For documentation's sake, we did eat out a couple of times, with good reason. On August 23rd, the day we were in the valley for Lincoln's tear duct surgery, we had to do some shopping at Costco, and we ended up eating lunch there. Which almost doesn't count, because we could have bought the same exact food in the cold foods section, taken it home, heated it up, and it would have fulfilled the requirements for prepared-at-home. And when I went to Mesa for an allergy appointment, I visited Amy, who took me to lunch. It was totally out of my control. But it was her treat, so again: doesn't count.

So, bottom line: we've had healthy, balanced meals, and I've been less stressed about cooking. Which is good, because at the end of the day, after homeschooling Bree, my brain and patience are often fried. I need a meal plan that works for me. And Chad can step in and help too, if he knows what's on the menu. And it feels good that I haven't needed to "cave" and call Chad to bring home fast food, even on my worst days.

And it probably saved us money.

I could find out if I weren't too lazy to examine the budget :)

Friday, September 7, 2012

So depressed

What's one of the most depressing chores in the world? Unpacking a suitcase.

Now imagine that your suitcase was packed, but never went anywhere. It was packed for the family vacation to San Diego that you've been planning since May. The vacation that was cancelled at the last minute.

Really depressing.

And the reason we're not going?

It is really hard not to be angry at our four-year-old right now.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Such is my life...lately

The past month has flown by in a torrent of busyness and bad moods. And I can sum up the reason with one word:


Or is that two words? Home school. I don't know. I must be a terrible teacher.

I'm needing to remind myself often about the reasons why we decided to homeschool.  Flexible schedule, superior curriculum, no detrimental peer influence. Sometimes when we're in the throes of schoolwork, I think, "Why don't we just send her to public school? We could go to Sea World when everyone else is on Fall bad can the lines be? Bree could learn one or two swear words at school; it's no big deal. And the incidence of meth use/alcohol abuse/dropping out in our area can't be the absolute worst in the state." Okay, so I guess I'll stand by our decision to homeschool. I think it really was the best one for us.

Last year, kindergarten at home was a breeze. I often wondered what a full day of school would be like. Now I know.

We all wake up some time between 7:00 and 8:00. We kiss Daddy goodbye around 7:50. Usually by the time I have told Bree and Mason to eat their breakfast, take their vitamins, brush their teeth, get dressed, and make their beds, it's 8:30. By the time I've repeated each command 2 to 5 times, and they've actually followed through with my instructions, it's 9:00.

Deep breath. Time for school.

We sit down at the computer desk in Bree's room, and start with whatever subject is currently challenging her the most. For a while this was math. Lately it's been Phonics, because her previous distance learning curriculum had her a little behind, and what should be a review right now is translating into a steep learning curve of a huge stack of sight words and digraphs and trigraphs (on an unrelated note, I just ate a crumb of chocolate pie crust off my long as I'm being completely honest here). She gets frustrated to the point of tears on a daily basis. Reading and writing are the most common culprits. Then I get frustrated, because it's difficult to pull her out of one of these moods when they hit, and also because I'm pretty sure this wouldn't be happening if she was in a "real" classroom. So, I let her cool off in the corner until she's ready to continue, and I cool off in my room, with an extra prayer for patience.

Deep breath. Let's continue.

We do Phonics every day, along with Language Arts (sentence structure, poetry, etc.), Handwriting Without Tears (hah!), and Math. These are the core subjects, and we can usually bang them out before lunch. I'm still trying to master the art of keeping a 4-year-old and 16-month-old happy while schooling my first-grader. Mason often follows along with Bree's lessons, and he picks up quite a bit. Or I have him work puzzles, or play with Bree's math cubes, or do educational games on the Sesame Street website. Or he plays Lego Star Wars if he's earned game time by putting dishes away. And Lincoln usually tags along with him. Which means I have to investigate the reason for Lincoln's crying several times during the morning. Which means Mason will tell me, "It was just a accident!" Which means he is often in the corner for lying.

Deep breath. Lunch time.

Chad gets to come home every day for lunch, which is really nice. Aside from the fact that it's just nice to see him (10 hours is a long shift), it forces me to have something concrete on the schedule to break up the school day. I have to stop, take a break, and make lunch (or, let's be honest, heat up leftovers) because there will be a hard-working man walking in the door at 12:30. After Chad's lunch break is over, he goes back to work with a sigh of relief, because his "break" has actually just been a visit to a crazy house, with a crazy wife, and even crazier children. Just kidding. Kind of.

Deep breath. Home stretch.

After lunch, Lincoln goes down for a nap, and we work on the other subjects: History, Science, Art, Music (each twice a week), and PE (once a week). Bree excels in these subjects. Actually, she's excelling in all of her subjects; the difference is only the amount of time and frustration it takes to get there. We also have to make sure to complete the monthly writing samples, attend live online assessments for reading and math, and every week we take quizzes that evaluate whether the students are "up to par" with state and national standards. The curriculum is excellent and very challenging. I myself am currently learning a lot about ancient Egypt. The coursework is very demanding for the Learning Coach (that's what I'm actually called, by the way. The term "Teacher" is reserved for the kind soul with whom we communicate via email). I spend most of the school time actively teaching. Very little of Bree's schoolwork is independent or "busy" work. So at the end of the day we're both exhausted.

But wait! That's just the end of the school day. Now it's about 3:00, and the house needs to be cleaned, the dishes need to be done, there's laundry, yard-work, exercise (hah!), and I still haven't showered, etc., etc. The amount of homemaking work that actually gets done on a daily basis varies greatly. This afternoon, for example, I'm blogging instead of working. It's just one example of a time-sucking activity (though a worthy one, in my opinion) that lures me away from my chores. But then I redeem myself by cooking a delicious (usually) dinner, and having it ready when Chad walks in at 6:00. Then Chad and I try to create some semblance of alone-time by putting the kids on our bed (if they've bathed) or in the living room (if they're in their usual state of stickiness) to watch a kids' movie. Then we watch whatever we want to watch in the other room, because we're adults, and we can. The kids' bedtime is 8:30. So naturally they're in bed by 9:00.

Deep breath.

Then Chad and I usually finish whatever we want to watch, or sometimes we read. I haven't been burning through my reading list like I wish I could, with less than an hour of reading time a day. It's barely enough to keep me averaging one book a week to keep up with my goal. And reading really helps keep me sane. That and prayer. And Chad's insistence that though I normally hate running, he'll watch the kids a few nights a week so I can go ALONE to the nearby school track. Running sounds pretty good when it means I get to leave the house alone. (And no, grocery shopping/running errands does not count as "me" time.) So I've been running...okay, I've been mostly walking, but I do run at least one lap out of the eight I usually do at the track. And it's been helping. Because, honestly, it was getting pretty scary there for a while. As in I was so grouchy, stressed, rude, impatient, tired...and just unhappy. I was losing myself and getting burned out. But thanks to the support of my amazing husband, and a little introspection, I'm doing so much better now.

Homeschooling is hard. It's not the teaching (excuse me, Learning Coaching) that's hard. It's the juggling three kids, the dealing with tears, the trying to be mom and teacher, the fear that I'm giving all my attention to my first-grader and neglecting the other kids, the exhaustion and "leftover wife" state that Chad finds me in every evening. It's taken some getting used to. It's not for everyone. But I think I've come around to a place where it feels like it's for me.

Deep breath. It's going to be okay. It's working. And it will start all over tomorrow.
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