Finally

 

I’ve been back for 3 whole weeks now. Don’t fret though, I haven’t been crying into my coffee every morning. I’ve just been thinking and trying to find what normal is and the girls and I were enjoying our last little bit of summer.

Then last week hit us like a train.

School started for Chloe and Halle, I helped a friend that’s moving to India (I should/could maybe say more than that…later…maybe…they say it better), I helped a friend with her wedding reception and both of those friends needed more help than I realized so I did a bit more than I thought I would and school ended up just getting scrapped by the end of the week. I really tried, honest. But life happened and we’ll do better this week.

I want to write about our trip and all that happened and the amazing things that have happened since then but I got distracted by this last week…

We spent 3 days out at this place last week helping set up for a wedding reception. Oddly enough these are the only 3 pictures I took and I didn’t take any of the very cool barn or any of the decorations or flower arrangements… It’s a bit disappointing but I was busy and didn’t want to take a lot of time to take pictures. I wish I had. It was so beautiful and I  fell in love.

Today? Today is school for Halle, Chloe will likely do homework even though she has a cold. Then I will chauffeur some ferns to Columbia (south of here) so that the lovely couple can honeymoon and not worry about things like returning ferns.

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A Little Known Fact

A little known fact about me is that there are times that I talk up a storm about anything and everything. But after my gabfest has subsided I’m very quiet. Nothing is wrong, I’m not upset about anything and I haven’t decided that I’ll never talk-or write-again. I just feel like being quiet. Travis knows this, although my quiet moods usually cause him to ask a thousand times if I’m okay. And my parents probably know but I thought I’d let you in on my secret. You know, in case you thought I dropped of the planet or something. I didn’t.

We finally sent Flat Stanley off last Friday. I had finished the album on Thursday and I wasn’t waiting another second to send him off. I contemplated showering, breakfast and school first but I knew they’d have to wait. I’m also fairly stubborn when I get an idea in my head. So I got two sleepy girls dressed and out the door…even though they were begging for breakfast. I let Halle grab a string cheese. Shower? Nah. I rarely go out of the house like that but I was on a mission. I grabbed a few post cards and a little prize type thing for the class and went to the Goin’ Postal shop that’s in the same plaza as the Walgreen’s that I stopped at. Why? Because I hate the Post Office (sorry, Dad). The clerks are not usually very friendly and the lines are usually long and it’s way farther away from my house and I just didn’t feel like going. I was very sad to find out that our little Goin’ Postal office is moving a couple of miles down the road in Westhaven. There’s no way I could ever go there without being primped and polished.

This is my little clearance photo album that I got for less than $5. Chloe picked the color and I think it goes nicely with Flat Stanley. Landon made him very colorful.

I slipped photos into the pockets and told Flat Stanley’s story from his perspective on colorful little sheets of card stock. I bought a stack of sheets that were 4 1/2 x 6 1/2, so I had to trim a little to get them to fit. But it was much better than having to cut up a bunch of 8 x 11 sheets that I already had. Another little known fact about me is that I can’t cut straight. Not kidding. I also can’t hang things straight. Even when I try really, really hard, I still can’t. So I gave up.

I tried to put things into the story that would make the kids giggle. Like, Flat Stanley was embarrassed that we took a picture of him in the bedding at Lulu’s. And that Daisy had welcomed him to Franklin by chewing on his foot (true story). I also told them they could see famous people here. I’m sure we’ll have second graders visiting Franklin in droves now.

Other than that, things around here are calm. I like calm. I was helping a friend paint yesterday and she asked how we were. And my answer was, “we’re fine.” Some of you know what a big deal that is. I talked for a while about being in a season of rest and how I’m just going to embrace it. I homeschool. But honestly, I think it’s feeding my soul much more than it’s taking anything out of me. I’m resisting the thought that I should do “more” and am content with doing our studies and hanging out with my kids. It’s not my personality, but for once I recognize that I’m finally getting what I prayed/hoped/wished for…rest and peace. I respect the homeschool moms that are doing lots of enrichment and field trips and such. But we’re not there right now and I expect us to do the same thing next year. I may be saying something completely different when I’m looking at 6th grade for Chloe. But for now, I’m enjoying what I’m doing and where I am.

An Amazing Day

I have to hand it to Flat Stanley. His visit has forced the Button clan out of the house and into Franklin to do things we would probably have put off until “later”, whenever that is. It isn’t a lack of desire to get out and do things, it’s just that Chloe has been sick the.whole.time. he’s been here. She’s definitely feeling better but I let her play the beginning of last week and she had a full fledged relapse. So I’ve made her rest past the point that she felt better.

There were a couple of places that I really wanted to take Flat Stanley but since one of them requires a hike into the woods and the other requires a not sick kid, I had to put it off. Thankfully, Chloe was well enough to ride in the car on Saturday and Travis was sweet enough to chauffeur me around.

He’s pretty cute…it’s a bummer that the lighting wasn’t ideal. It was a beautiful day, very sunny and not a cloud in the sky. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make for the best pictures.

Travis agreed to drop Halle, Daisy and I off at Pinkerton Park so we could hike to Fort Granger while he drove around to the main entrance. That way it seemed like I wasn’t really hiking with just the smallest Button and the dog. And as it turned out, there were lots of people hiking to the Fort that day.

Here’s a bit of the hike…I just love it!

It gets a little steep but it’s short and is something that even little kids can do. Daisy loved it! And I’ll confess that I had this hike in mind when I was pining for a dog.

Hey, it’s a picture of me! That hardly ever happens. There was a very sweet girl that offered to take a picture of the three of us.

This was our vantage point from the top and it makes it pretty clear why the Union soldiers chose this spot to build their fort.

That’s the Harpeth River below. The same Harpeth that flooded and put parts of Pinkerton Park under 15 + feet of water last May.

And while it looks like an open field, this is actually Fort Granger. It’s beautiful in the summer.

I hadn’t heard of an earthen fort before I visited here. What looks like the side of a hill here was actually dug by Union soldiers as the outside wall of the fort. It’s not as glamorous as say, the Castillo de San Marcos, but it’s still interesting. And it’s much less of a drive.

Then we found this…

Travis thinks it’s from a goat. You don’t see those everyday.

Then we visited the Factory. I hurried in for pictures and I took Daisy with me just to see if I could actually get her inside the place (it’s pet friendly). Daisy is mostly a big fraidy-cat and if it even looks like I’m going to take her inside a place that isn’t our house, she freaks out. I’ve had to tell people that I’m not hurting her, it just sounds like I am. It’s very embarrassing.

But she went inside!!! And she only yelped once! And her tongue looks bigger than her head here. It was the only picture I could get of her face though. As soon as she saw an exit door she dragged me towards it but she went inside and I was happy with that. I figure we’ll take baby steps towards all the things I want her to do.

Then we raced off to Carnton Plantation. The sun was setting so I had to hurry. I got shots of every monument to every state that lost soldiers in the Battle of Franklin. This is the one that I liked the best.

And it happened to be Tennessee’s monument. I want to be careful to not make Flat Stanley’s album creepy. I’m not sure how well second grader’s will respond to cemetery shots. I also picked up a bunch of brochures to send but a lot of them emphasize how bloody the battle was. Or ghosts. I think I’ll send them because they have great pictures of the plantation but I’ll let Landon’s teacher use her judgement on what the kids should read.

All-in-all it’s been really fun. And for the first time in a very long time, I got to be the one doing the fun stuff instead of being at home sick. That is a really good feeling. And I see many more hikes in my future.

Of Art and Icicles

When I was a kid growing up in Florida, I was completely enamored with icicles. I remember the first time my dad showed one to me. We were living in “the old house” (as we called it later when we were in “the new house”) and he came into the kitchen, excited about finding icicles outside. Yes, Florida occasionally gets cold enough for icicles.  We got snow once too but I was only about 4 and had no idea what you were supposed to do with it. Anyway, anytime there was going to be a cold snap in central Florida a few people would turn their sprinklers on and the next morning their entire yard would be covered in ice. I thought it was the most beautiful thing ever.

This is what my van looked like this morning.

A lot of the snow melted yesterday. The temperature wasn’t above freezing but the sun was out so it melted but since it was *really* cold last night, the melted stuff froze and I have icicles! I still think they’re pretty neat.

I’ve been working with Halle on the letter “I” this week and we’d finished her lesson because we’d started it in the middle of the week before. Rather than starting a new letter on Thursday, I decided to do art and such to reinforce the letter and we’ll start a new one on Monday. But I also couldn’t leave Chloe out. She loves painting. I’m a bit disappointed with her Global Art book overall because a lot of the projects require things that I don’t have at home (a box with a lid from a ream of paper? I didn’t have that lying around) or they’re complicated (felting? really?) I should have anticipated that if the art is “global” then I probably wouldn’t have the items on hand. I do have water color supplies on hand though and that’s what we did.

I drew a ladybug on a leaf for each of the girls on water color paper and let them paint away…

Here’s Halle’s…

And here’s Chloe’s…

I love them. The paintings and the kids. I want to frame them and hang them in their bedrooms. The only downside to the paper I have is that it’s *huge* and it’s hard to find a frame. I wish I’d thought of it beforehand so I could have taped it off to a more reasonable size. But no matter, I’ll figure it out.

Flat Stanley and Other Adventures

The girls got a package in the mail yesterday from their cousin, Landon which included a letter and a little Flat Stanley, um, doll? He’s a laminated paper cutout so I’m not sure what you call that…other than a laminated paper cutout or a doll. Anyway, we’re supposed to carry him around for a week and document all sorts of things that we do with him before we send him back to Florida. I’ll be the first to admit that our daily Button life can be a bit, um, boring. So I wracked my brain for ideas of what to actually do with him. Then it hit me, “Duh, we’re a really big Civil War destination and almost everything is historic.” So I felt like we were set. Now, it remains to be seen if that translates to something that’s interesting to a group of second graders.

Not wanting to wait, I decided to take the girls, Daisy and Flat Stanley to the park. It was 31 degrees when we left and 29 degrees when we returned less than a half hour later. I decided that I would wear my hair au naturalle, which for me is wavy. This was for a few reasons 1) I didn’t feel like doing anything with my hair 2) after nearly freezing to death last week, I knew that wearing it wet wasn’t an option 3) a pony tail was also not an option because my ears would freeze. As it turns out my ears (and face) froze anyway. It was really windy so the wavy hair turned out to be a really good decision. Going out without a hat? Not so much. I need a cute hat so I’m not embarrassed to wear one out. Unfortunately all the ones I pick out either don’t fit my big head or are really expensive.

It’s the back of my big head. If I’d known my hair was naturally wavy in high school, I could have saved my mom a lot of money on perms. Bless her heart. Well, bless all of us permed ’80’s kids. I hope the fumes didn’t cause us all to have brain damage.

I wish I could adequately convey Halle’s excitement over Flat Stanley. She wanted to carry him and hold his hand and shelter him from the cold. Sometimes my heart aches over how sweet she is. Or how cute she is. I love that kid so much.

And the thing that surprised me is how “into it” Chloe is. She wasn’t being as nurturing as Halle but that’s not really her thing in general. She was excited to climb rocks and pose for pictures. And if you’re wondering, I really love this kid too. I’m sure you weren’t.

She’s in fourth grade but is still really motivated by things like this. Plus she likes to write letters. I mean, she *really* likes to write letters. She’ll be the one to do a lot of the writing and documenting. Then we’ll all work to put something together. I’m thinking of a small photo book. Nothing elaborate since scrap booking isn’t  my thing, but a small one is doable. I think that’s probably the best way to document it all.

It’s supposed to snow tomorrow *but* it’s supposed to be in the 50’s by the weekend. So I have big plans for Flat Stanley. First we’ll head to Winstead Hill, then Fort Granger, Downtown Franklin, and then maybe we’ll get ice cream or coffee (well, I won’t have ice cream). I’m so excited. First of all, I want Landon to not feel embarrassed. That’s my first priority. Secondly, this is right up our homeschool alley. We’ll all get outside to do things we’ve talked about wanting to do all winter. But the girls will learn a lot too. I’d also like to go to Carnton Plantation, and I want to take pictures of some of the random cemeteries around here. I hope that doesn’t freak out the second graders.

This is going to be really fun.

Making Mistakes and Moving On

I’ve posted a good bit on what we’re doing and fun things about homeschool but I’m going to write today about an area in which I feel that I’ve failed miserably. The term “failed miserably” is relative here. It’s my dramatic way of saying, “Oh no! I’ve made a mistake and I must fix it now!” I don’t like making mistakes. Actually, I loathe making mistakes. I’m not sure why. I suppose I could say I’m a perfectionist but I’m only a perfectionist in certain areas. In other areas I’m laid-back; maybe too laid-back.

I guess I should start by saying that I am some weird combination of type A personality meets go-with-the-flow. Unfortunately, my family can’t really tell where go-with-the-flow ends until I’m upset about something. Believe me, I wish I could figure me out and make a handy instruction manual for Travis and the kids but I’m often surprised about it all myself.

Homeschool is great. I love that my kids aren’t stuck in a classroom 7 hours a day, 5 days a week, forced to sit still and be quiet with a 20 minute break a day for fresh air. I love that I’m able to hug them and talk to them and that we can share while we’re in school. I really don’t love being interrupted continually. Travis can testify to that. As of now, I haven’t instituted any rules about when the girls could talk or about staying seated, this is homeschool after all. But I’ve found recently that the girls won’t stop talking while I’m instructing. Halle and Daisy are probably the biggest distractions. It’s easy enough to crate Daisy while we’re learning but Halle talks and cracks jokes constantly. She’s the youngest and is always trying to make us laugh so there are times I can barely get through a sentence without being interrupted. Then it’s very likely that I’ll erupt. Not good.

So today I decided to fix it all and belted out machine gun type orders that brought Chloe to tears and had Halle running around like a little puppy dog trying to make things better. Did I mention that I hate it when I make mistakes? Especially when it makes my kid(s) cry. Bleh.

I don’t deny that some rules are going to have to be put in place. Did I also mention that I’m not a big fan of rules? I mean, I’m okay with not killing or stealing or any of the other 10 commandments. It’s other rules like English, for instance. There are so.many.rules. And I just broke a bunch 🙂 It’s amazing how happy that makes me. See? I’m incorrigible. I much prefer to write the way I talk and add commas wherever I *feel* like putting commas. I had the same trouble in college. I was very upset when I found out I was going to have to count an intro before I started singing. I would much rather just *feel* where I was supposed to start. So, yeah, I had to learn to count. Bleh. Anyway, I like a free-flowing, freedom to discuss things homeschool. But I get crazy when I can’t reach my goal of doing school while I’m being interrupted. So I have to change. And I’m a little nervous about that.

I also have to realize that it’s going to take a little getting used to. And that I’m going to have to write the rules so they can see them. I have to teach them to follow directions completely. And I have to teach them English. Rules and all. I’m thinking that homeschool is as much for me as it is for them.

Feeling Frozen

You don’t want to hear me complain about the frigid temps here do you? Oh, wretched bitter cold, how I loathe you right now! It’s not that I can’t handle temps in the 20’s. I can. It just feels like a sucker punch after weekend temps in the mid 60’s. Travis and I even had to turn on the a/c in the car this past weekend.

This was not the day for me to run out of the house with my wet hair pulled into a low ponytail, but I did. It was the day that I should have warmed up the car before we left for the library, Target and Kroger, but I didn’t. At least I know where all the other kids go on a frigid day like today, the library. I thought it odd that it was so crowded but then I remembered that we usually go during school hours. The only kids we see then are other homeschoolers.  I was happy to find a Dick and Jane reader for Halle. I hadn’t looked for one before because I didn’t think they were around anymore. It’s perfect for her because even though she can read a lot of words, level 1 readers have a lot of words that she doesn’t know. Then she gets frustrated. I remember that from when Chloe was learning to read. She hated it so much because it didn’t come easily to her. Now she devours nearly any book she can get her hands on. “Sarah Plain and Tall” is a big exception though. If I were to ask her about it today, I know she would rant for a full 5 minutes on how boring and awful that book was. It reminds me of another girl that ranted about some required reading in high school. Something about a guy that wrote paragraph long sentences or something like that (ahem, Amanda) or maybe it was middle school.

This is one of Halle’s absolute favorite things to do in school…

She’s writing her letter of the week in a container full of table salt. I got the idea from her homeschool curriculum and it was the easiest of their suggestions by far. It’s just a container with a lid that’s full of table salt. She can write her letter or she’ll spend and hour or so just drawing pictures.There are probably really wonderful homeschool moms that take the time to make letters out of gelatine and things like that (also a suggested activity) but I’m not that mom. I rarely have jello in the house and I really don’t have alphabet cookie cutters that I could use. Although, now that I think about it I have a circle and that would have been easy enough for the letter O. Suffice it to say, I’m not the mom that runs all over town looking for items for each lesson. And I’m going to be very honest and say that if I did, I don’t think it would make me a better homeschool mom. I know it would make me a frazzled homeschool mom. I don’t really like being frazzled.

Daisy…

Was this small the day we got her. She seemed so big then and getting her at three months seemed like we’d missed so much already.

And this is her now…

She’s six months old now. And I love her…even when she’s annoying, even when she play bites, even when she barks and begs for food. Silly derg.

Homeschool Fun

Homeschool is fun and tedious and rewarding and a whole lot of other things rolled into one. I’ve gotten to know Chloe better in the process though and have found out that she really likes crafts. I should have known that but a lot of times I look at her schedule and get tunnel vision with assignments and leave the fun things out of it. Halle’s curriculum on the other hand, is mostly fun. Her attention span is roughly that of a gnat so crafts fill out her day and help to reinforce what we’re learning. It makes Chloe grumpy though that Halle gets to have fun. I gave her a coloring sheet one morning and she said “Thanks, Mom. I was actually going to lose my mind if I didn’t get to color something”. Point taken.

We made these cute turtles and lily pad when Halle was studying Tt.

The lily pad was supposed to be a Mexican flower but we didn’t have enough tissue paper so we used coffee filters. If you’ve ever made a tissue paper flower then you know how to make this. When we pulled the layers apart though I thought it looked like a water lily. So we used some water color paint to paint a lily pad from another coffee filter. The turtles are just paper plates, stapled together and painted with some of my artist acrylics with construction paper head, legs and tail. Mostly because I haven’t bought any craft paint. Well, it’s totally because I haven’t bought any craft paint.

I thought about putting beans inside the turtles to make an instrument of sorts but didn’t. We did do that later for another lesson though. I put un-popped popcorn between two paper plates and stapled it together and wowza was it loud! If you don’t like a lot of noise and want to make the turtle craft, skip the popcorn. I mean, it’s *really* loud. Surprisingly loud. I made Halle take it to the playroom and shut the door to play with it. Then I threw it away when she wasn’t looking.  Hopefully Santa won’t put coal in my stocking for that.