Thursday, July 27, 2017

Picture of the Week - 7/27/2017

"I have a lot of excitement in my life.  I used to call it tension, but I feel much better now that I call it excitement."  ~Madeleine Costigan

We are in a pretty significant transition period right now.  Like MAJOR stuff is changing in MAJOR ways.  

Unlike the transition from school year to summer, we aren't winding things down.  Instead we are adding events to our calendar almost faster than the color-coded ink can dry.  Going from Summer-slow to Back-to-School chaos is hard.  And daunting.  My calendar kinda makes me break out into a sweat just looking at it.  And chaos is nothing new to us...

This transition into school stuff is bigger than most of the others we've been through.  Maybe the first time we put Spencer on a school bus was emotional comparable, but then we didn't have eleventy million other things going on.  And there was just that ONE big change.  

This year we have a starting Freshman and a starting Kindergartner.  When you say that to people in conversation it gets almost as many exclamations as telling people you have 4 boys.  I suppose there aren't too many people out there with that kind if spread.  And honestly, I'm not sure I'd recommend it.  So. Much. Change.  And all at once.

We have no idea what we're doing with high school.  Everything seems foreign and murky.  I think our high school has done a great job communicating what the kids need to do.  And I think we've done it all.  But I have no idea if we've done it RIGHT.  I guess we'll find out.  I know we will navigate around all of the uncertainty and by the time we get to our last rising Freshman, this will feel warm and comfortable.  But this first time through is, well, it's just daunting.  For me...  Spencer, of course, is totally, 100% fine and ready to go.  He's not worried.  And can't wait for next Thursdays.  He says he's reached the point of the summer where he's "kinda bored".  (Glad someone is...)

I've attached a copy of his schedule for this year.  I swear it took me 20 minutes to decipher what he would actually be doing from one day to the next.  (I may have charted day-by-day, which is a WAY easier way to read this thing...)  This is way more complicated than the schedule I had in high school!!!

Quinn is going into 8th grade.  I can handle 8th grade.  Been there/done that.  He is getting an almost entirely new management team at his school, but given he doesn't need special services and doesn't (knock on wood) spend any time in the principal's office, that's not even a big deal.  We know the school.  We know the people.  We're good!  (Quinn is easily the most bummed of all the boys that summer is over.  He's really enjoyed his summer of lazy luxury!)

Zane is going into 2nd grade.  Again, been there.  We don't find out his teacher until next Tuesday, but it doesn't really matter.  He will be fine.  He'll still be going to the same Horizons teacher and walking the same hallways.  He's ready and excited - despite not getting a new backpack...

And then Beckett.  If there was ever a child ready for the next phase, it's Beck.  I think sending he and Zane to summer camp at the elementary school has probably given him a bit of a false sense of confidence.  He's pretty sure he knows exactly what school is going to be like.  And he's pretty sure he's going to be awesome at it.  (Actually so am I... I just also feel the need to apologize to his teacher in advance for the added challenges coming her way!)  My hope for Beckett this year is that he figures out how to decide when it's time to listen and behave!  We will tackle our very last "School bus Round up" next Tuesday.  So hard to believe...

All of that is just the SCHOOL part of the Back-to-School craziness.  The other half is all sports related - and honestly the part that has me nearly immobilized with anxiety.  Spencer, Zane and Beckett are all playing football.  Their practices kick off in earnest tonight.  Spencer will go every day after school (4-6) and the little boys each have 2 weekday and 1 weekend practice every week until games start.  I guess I was oddly naive in thinking that the little guys would have practice at the same time/same place.  In hindsight, I am WAY more seasoned than that...  and I really should have expected what happened.  They are in different parks at the same time twice a week.  That alone would be fine, except that Spencer is going to need to somehow get home in the middle of that.  So - we'll be begging rides ALL season.  I am gonna owe a bunch of people a bunch of stuff come November!  

Did I mention that the little boys have fallen in LOVE with jiu jitsu and it's been so good for them in SO many ways that we signed them up again.  I mean that's logical right?  They have football on Tuesday and Thursday and jiu jitsu is Monday/Wednesday/Friday.  Seems like fate wants them to do both.  Right?!?!?

Quinn is playing lacrosse this fall.  He's got practice 3 times a week too.  And, of course, 2 of those dates are the non-football days.  It's good because it helps logistics.  It's bad because we don't have any days off.  Ever.  From now until fall break.  (Excuse me while I breathe into a paper bag for a second...)

I kid.  I know it'll be busy.  I know we will get tired.  I know I'll see far less of my husband than I like as we pass in the drive, each following our logistical plan before collapsing in bed at night.  

I also know we'll get through it.  I know we'll have a blast along the way.  I know the boys will all grow in so so so many different ways.  And I know that this time of utter craziness is only a phase - and one I will likely miss a great deal.  Next fall Spencer can drive himself around.  And act as a 3rd driver to get through all the other activities.  In the blink of an eye, my weekly calendar logistic gymnastics will be a distant memory.  Before we know it we'll be down to 2 schools instead of 3.  Then 1...  

Time flies.  And with a schedule like ours, it'll be over before we even realize it's kinda hard.  

I know all of this...  it's just the suspense is killing me!

Have a great week everyone!  And if you come for a visit, expect to play chauffeur!  

PS - for anyone interested, Spencer will play his games on Thursday nights.  The little boys will have games on Saturdays.  Quinn's season is a bit different than seasons past and is focused on development over games, so if you are looking for some lacrosse action, check back in the spring when all 4 will be back on a lacrosse field.    

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Picture of the Week - 7/20/2017

I'm back again from another week away from home.  This summer is kicking my butt!  Monday I'm off to Dallas...  at least that trip is just a one-nighter.  

I missed football evaluations this week.  (I missed a lot more than that...  but I'm not gonna dwell...)  

Here's a fun picture from the evals.  Don't tell anyone, but I'm pretty sure Spencer is proud of his little brothers.  It's so crazy that my LITTLE boys are both playing football this year.  It's also a pretty obvious reminder that we're sending Beck to REAL school on a REAL yellow bus exactly 2 weeks from today.  Super crazy!

I'm exhausted.  I'm gonna go crash.  Then, after a good night's sleep, I'm going to work hard to cram as much summer fun as possible into this weekend.  GO!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Picture of the Week - 7/13/2017

This parenting thing...  why didn't anyone tell me it was so full of difficult decisions.  So. Much. Gray...  I really like things Black and White. Right and Wrong.  

There have been a few situations recently that have caused us to stop and THINK and try not to over-react.  These situations have really tested our resolve to look at the big picture and not focus on quick wins, easy way outs, and short term harmony.  As I think I've mentioned before, we conscientiously try to remember that our goal as parents is to build good, capable, well-adjusted and HAPPY people.  

One of the things that Bob and I have purposely considered when making decisions is that we really want our kids to be confident and capable.  This is not the same as cocky...  and we have MANY conversations with a certain 14 year old about remaining humble.  But confidence is one of those traits that 1) you can build and 2) you will reap rewards from for your whole life.  I want my kids to believe they can do whatever they put their mind to do.  And *I* believe they can do this.  Of course there are some limits.  None of my kids will play in the NBA.  But when it comes to trying new stuff and working toward reasonable goals, I want them to GO FOR IT.  I never want them to look back and think "man, I wish I had done xxxxx, but my parents discouraged me from trying."

So this all leads us to Spencer's recent purchase of a truck.  In Georgia, you get your learners permit at age 15. You have to have it for 12 months before you can get your limited driver's license.  (Aside - I can hardly believe we are having serious conversation about one of my kids driving a car.  Sigh...  our time with him is nearly over...)  This gives Spencer roughly 15 months before he will be able to jump into a vehicle and drive it as his own.

A long time ago Bob and I decided that we wanted to help with the purchase of our boys' first cars, but we didn't want to GIVE it to them.  We told the boys that whatever they had saved up for a purchase, we would double.  So if they worked hard and saved 10k, we'd shop for a 20k vehicle.  If they spent money on video games and crap and had only 2k to spend, they their car purchase budget was 4k.  Fair enough...

Spencer got it in his head a few months ago that he wanted to start shopping around.  The app LET GO has been his favorite place to browse.  He's found some ridiculously cheap options - most of which didn't run - some of which had moss INSIDE them.  We've talked about these, but not super seriously.  Then he found this 1969 Chevy truck and he got more serious.  He independently reached out to the owner to find out more.  He did a TON of research about the truck and what might be necessary to fix it up.  

He decided he wanted to go look at this thing in person so that he could decide if he really wanted to buy it.  It has an engine, an improvement over some of the options.  It does not have a seat.  It doesn't currently run, although it does turn over.  It is missing the ENTIRE truck bed.  

He saw it.  He kinda fell in love with it.  He wanted it.

Now comes decision time for me and Bob.  Do we let him do this.  It's pretty risky...  if he can't get it running, it's essentially like throwing away $4400 - half of which is ours. No one wants to throw away money.

But then we looked at the upside.  

First, if it fails, then it's a relatively safe failure.  If the boys aren't allowed to try and fail with the safety net of family behind them now, then when would they EVER be ready take a worthwhile risk.  (This is not to say that we will change our minds and buy him a car if this doesn't work out.  That's not on the table...)  

Second, he's already proven that he can do the research required to figure out what to do.  Can he actually, physically DO these things?  No idea...  we're about to find out.  If he does learn these things, this is a whole new skill set that he's not going to get in any other way.  It's a good opportunity, in other words, to build knowledge and skills that will likely come in handy for the rest of his life.  

Third, if he succeeds and get the truck running, he will have built a great deal of confidence in himself and his abilities to work hard for something he wants.  Because this is going to be hard work... that truck is a hot mess. 

I'm honestly not sure why, exactly, he chose this route.  His friends think he's crazy.  Bob and I laid out the reality of the situation.  And then he decided to do it anyway.  And we're supporting this decision.

I'm sure some of you reading this will think we are insane for letting him make this purchase.  It's a hassle, it's a risk, and at the end of the day, he may not have anything to drive - and we REALLY need another driver in the family.  

But some of you may understand that this kind of decision, this kind of risk taking, this kind of unconventional facilitated training/learning, this kind of unconditional support is exactly what I want my kids to remember about how they were raised.  It's exactly the kind of thing that we think is missing in today's society.  Work hard - get rewarded - sometimes you win - sometimes you fail.  

It's life.  And it's ugly and hard.  And it's beautiful.  

Stay tuned for Truck updates over the next 15 months.  :)

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Picture of the Week - 7/6/2017


I hope everyone had a safe and happy 4th of July!  I have kind of a love/hate thing with mid-week holidays.  I love the extra "free" day, but then it's back to work the very next day.  Schedules are strange.  Half the world seems like they are on vacation right now.  

We had a very nice, relaxing Tuesday.  Got up.  Yard work.  Then pool time.  Cook out.  Cards and beers with my parents.  It was awesome!  Would have been awesomer if we didn't have to work the next day!

Every day I get to look back at old pictures taken on the same day in years past.  I use Timehop, which I'm pretty sure I've talked about before.  I also use Amazon Prime photos, who recently added the same functionality.  (Incidentally, if you are a Prime user, it's free and a pretty cool way to store/protect all your pictures.)  

It turns out that one of my all time favorite pictures of the boys was taken on July 4th 4 years ago.  So of course, I made the boys recreate it.  Pretty crazy how much they have all changed in 4 years.  You know who was the most difficult of them all in the picture taking process.  Willow!  She was terrible and had Bob totally flustered.  LOL

Enjoy this little bit of then/now!  

Next week I'm off on a tour of Sacramento and Phoenix.  I'll have to leave at o-dark thirty on Monday morning and won't be back until around midnight on Thursday.  YUCK!  Have a great week everyone.  I hope yours is a little more restful than I think mine is going to be...