Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Matter of Perspective

This may look like any other tree...until you see
Audrey at the bottom.  Puts it in perspective!
Isn't it amazing how a story changes depending on who is telling it?  Not only do we all process and interpret things differently from each other, but something as simple as the passing of time can make our own viewpoints change drastically.

The last couple of years have come with extra challenges for many of us, and throughout that time I've found that I tend to default into cataloging the negatives instead of the positives.  I have found myself subconsciously listing the imperfections of these years, as if focusing on those will make future years seem brighter in comparison.

But I don't think that's how it really works.  I think what happens is that a habit of looking for the bad points forms, and the all of the positives flit by without much notice.  I've realized that not only do I have a choice as to how I look at things, but my change of focus will affect how those around me view life as well.

I can't help but feel that this should be elementary.  I should have this down by now, you know?  But I don't.  So in hopes of training myself to refocus, I'm starting a thankfulness project. There really is so much to be thankful for--big and small--and they deserve a larger place in my life and mind than the pitiful things I've found myself dwelling on in the past.  Here are 25 things I found joy in this weekend:

  1. fresh air
  2. hot showers
  3. strong coffee
  4. overcast mornings
  5. silence
  6. books (duh)
  7. rustling leaves
  8. my husband & kiddos
  9. sense of humor
  10. bunny rabbits
  11. imaginations
  12. extended family (be they related or not!)
  13. dishwashers
  14. English
  15. ice
  16. internet
  17. purple
  18. tulips
  19. creativity
  20. refrigeration
  21. men who cook
  22. curry
  23. cool night air
  24. stars
  25. sleep
I plan on building this list to an unwieldy size...until it topples over and I'm buried in thankfulness.  Sounds like a happy problem to have, don't you think?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Another School Year is Over

Completing a school year is no small feat, whether student or parent, so I thought it would be good to take some time to reflect on it.  Maybe that will help prepare me for the next round which is quickly approaching!  The next school year is bringing big changes for our family, as Andrew and Melinda venture into the world of schooling in a classroom with more than 4 students (technically they've experienced that at Tahoe Montessori, so perhaps I should have said that this will be their first time in a daily classroom with more than 10 students.) They are both positive about going, and Melinda (in true Melinda fashion) is thrilled.  I am alternately relieved (preteen is not my favorite age, as it turns out) and depressed (I'm going to miss them!).  Audrey is pretty excited that she gets me all to herself next year, although I find myself wondering how long it will be before she wants to be at Valley Christian too.

Audrey was in 1st grade this year. Structurally, this was the year that Audrey became accustomed to doing school every day, even when she didn't feel like it or didn't enjoy the material.  She [mostly] completed her Headsprout Phonics program and is doing a good job reading, but where she really shines is math.  She worked through Math Mammoth 1 this year, and just loves being able to figure out her own math tricks. We used Sonlight for history (cultures) and science, and both of these she finished early.  She also listened in on history for the older kids, as well as most of the other books I read to them, so she got in more school than she realized.  Next year we're going to use Moving Beyond the Page to keep us on track with Valley Christian's topics.

Timothy completed 9th grade this year, and officially passed his dad up in the height department.  9th grade was much easier for him than 8th in some regards...especially in the time and attitude management department.  This isn't to say that this year was easy, but that somewhere in the 3rd quarter he seemed to come to terms with the fact that school is not fair, easy, or fun.  He will be continuing on at Valley Christian for his Sophmore year, which we are all hoping goes more smoothly still.  He is glad that next year will not include band or Spanish, bummed that it will include English.  You can't win them all.

For Andrew, this was the year of blissful sleep--one of the things he most loves about home schooling (another thing being his delight at being able to finish all of his school work in a fraction of the time a normal school day consumes.)  He made huge progress in his writing skills, and is no longer afraid of a 5 paragraph essay.  He's looking forward to making friends and taking electives in 7th grade at the middle school next year, even at the cost of early mornings.  It's going to be hard on him, but hopefully the benefits will outweigh the frustrations.  Personally, I'm glad that it will force him away from his computer--where he's been contentedly immersed much of the year (even with time restrictions!)

Melinda will be in 6th grade next year, which I'm having a difficult time comprehending.  She's young for her grade, and sometimes struggles to keep up--especially in the area of comprehending instructions...next year should be fun. :/
She loves to be busy, so hopefully the jam-packed school days will be right up her alley.  This year she amazed me with how much school work she can pump out.  She loves earth science and creative writing, merely tolerating history and math.  She's growing a lot emotionally right now (translate: hormones are kicking in!) but we'll figure it out.  We'll survive!

NOW I'm ready to start summer.  If only it weren't already half over. :(

Friday, July 8, 2011

7 is SO Much Older than 6

As very wise and learned adults, we enjoy teasing children about how much bigger they suddenly become on their birthdays.  Wow! Look how much you grew!  Well this year the trick was on me, since Audrey really did seem to get so much bigger and older overnight.  She was really looking forward to turning 7, and she did a great job. :) 

We let her choose a place to go out to dinner (doing that this year instead of throwing parties) and her first choice was the small Indian restaurant we like to go to...but she ended up changing her mind so that she could bring more family along.  Gramps, Tutu, Grandma Barbara, Uncle Jon, and cousin Drew were able to join our small celebration.  She was thrilled to be with her family for her birthday.
The Ruby's staff sings Audrey a Happy Birthday.
Audrey loves her goofy brother!
She's opening presents, but if you ask me, she's the real gift.
She had a thing with cards this year...kept reminding me to get
her one to go with each gift.
Audrey designed her own cake.  It went
through many shapes, forms, and colors
during the design process, but she ended
up with mega-chocolate.