October Recap, where we're at and private settings

(my blog is back to private. I'm sorry if this is annoying. I no longer share photos publicly and some of the searches to my blog freak me out.)

2013 has gone by quicker than any other year in my life. 
I'm not sure why that happens; time fleeting quicker every year. 
But this year I have made a mental note as the weeks zoom by, how fast they're going. 
Usually the growth of babies and toddlers seems to be obvious, while older kids' growth and mental development is less obvious. 
This year it feels like all 4 of my kids are making huge leaps and bounds and doing all sorts of new things and making so many physical changes. 

Our life has taken on a different rhythm as well. We're busy, sure, but not nearly as busy as we could be. Kids aren't doing sports this fall/winter, we're doing our best to keep our evenings just family, saying no to other activities (which is difficult but necessary), I try to have at least 1 day a week where we sleep in, eat a big breakfast and do lots of puzzles, reading, watch a movie (we've been trying out the classics, which has been fun for me to see my kids enjoy those for the first tim!) and just more time that's quiet and calm. School has taken on a new shape this year; between Classical Conversations and the kids being in more advanced grades, it looks much different from the laid back, early school days we enjoyed before. 
Moms of small children - enjoy those days, no matter how crazy and chaotic and unstructured they seem. They pass quickly and when you look back on them, you will be most happy to look back with fondness and not a lot of regret. Enjoy the crazy and carefree days you have now. Carefree in a sense that you can totally go by your own schedule and singing, dancing, taking walks and coloring can be "school" for the day :) 

someone is 19 months old this week! 
and to think, this picture was taken a month ago, 
just after his first big boy hair cut. 

October was a fun month, but since we're already into mid-November, October feels like such a long time ago. 
We had a lot of fun with school - we did lots of Fall crafts, played outdoors A LOT, and enjoyed a visit from our friend Leah Lutz, from California. 
The kids are loving Classical Conversations and to my HUGE surprise, I love being a tutor. Its been an amazing experience for us and has given each one of us a new and refreshed love for school and just learning in general.
The older 3 are taking a History class (Story of the World) on Mondays and then we do CC on Wednesdays, so Tuesday/Thursday tend to be our days home, where we do our school, cleaning, cooking and resting. 
Ethan and Rachel are in a children's choir on Wednesday nights at a church near our house and they love it! They will be in the Christmas production next month and they both have parts they're prepping for. Rachel is most excited that the costumes are going to be old fashioned dresses and suits :) 
I've been really happy with the curiculem we ordered and SO thankful to my friend Leslie for helping me out with some of my choices. So far we're loving All About Reading/Spelling for Rachel and to my surprise, I'm a fan of Saxon Math. I hated Saxon when I was younger, but I'm totally impressed with their 2nd and 3rd grade books.

my babies. 

Makes me laugh because to me, Kara is still my baby. But then she is so big compared to Miles and she definitely views him as HER baby. You can't ever let on that she is still 'baby' or she sets you straight right away, letting you know she's left the baby days far behind. 
Kara and Miles have a love/hate relationship and my guess is its because she's constantly wanting him to be the baby and he's constantly wanting to act as big as Ethan. 
They play together well, but then at a moment's notice, there can be screaming and biting and crying over the strangest thing. 
Needless to say, I don't leave them alone in a room. 
Kara's learning how to read and doing really well with it! She's in first reader books and, unlike Rachel, she has a ton of confidence. She often reads a word totally wrong and then argues with me about it when I correct her. I wish I knew who she gets her stubbornness from..... ;-) 
I'm loving "school" with her this year because she's still in the early stages and so its hap hazard and fun. We play a lot, do puzzles, sing a lot, read a lot and do things like bake cookies or she helps me make dinner. Its funny how I stressed when Ethan was in Kindergarten and with Kara, its such a relaxing, fun stage. 
We learn SO much as we go along, that's for sure. The older I get the more I feel my need to learn and take notes and listen and experiment -- the less I want to give advice or have people watch me or worse, find out someone wants to do what I'm doing. I look back and cringe at how much I thought I knew in my 20's. I think this will be something I'll revisit every decade :) 
Learning about six forms of pollution - they surprised me 
by writing them all down from memory! 

Ethan has been enjoying cursive (again, another shock to me - my child who HATES writing, loves cursive!) and he's quite good at it! 
He actually likes all his work this year, which is nice. I'm starting to wonder if his work has just been too easy all along. Now that the work is more complex (he's in a mixture of 3rd and 4th grade) he seems to be much more into it. He likes a challenge. 
He's still very much into football, but maybe slightly less than before. I'm thankful to see the change in him this year from being less obsessed with things than he used to. He even walks away from a Minecraft game without being told! *shocking* 
He has a couple buddies in our new neighborhood and so he's often found outside playing and really can't wait until Miles is old enough to wander and play with him. 
They share a room, which has been thrilling for Ethan, since he's felt left out watching the girls share, but having to be alone in his room. 
The cutest thing is when I wake up and realize the boys are already awake and i can hear them talking and hear Ethan teaching Miles how to build with Legos. 
I'm praying their relationship continues to grow and is a blessing to both of them, even with the 7 year age gap. 

a few weeks ago we spent the afternoon at our favorite park, 
Luther Burbank on Mercer Island. 
The kid's history class got canceled and so we played hooky at the park :) 
I have to say, what struck me the most this day was seeing Miles skip rocks with the kids. 
Granted, he doesn't actually skip them, but just seeing him being one of the big kids 
was totally shocking to me. No carrier, no stroller, no help from mom. 
Such a stud. 

    in case you're counting, the extra kid is our good friend Dylan :) 

Rachel is our quiet personality, but LOUD voiced daughter. She doesn't make a lot of noise around the house and loves to play by herself, but when she talks or gets excited or sings - its LOUD.
Rachel has always been and still is my ray of sunshine. Miles is very much like her and its no wonder the two of them get along SO well.
In fact, if I can't be with Miles and he gets sad, I tell people to go get Rachel because she's his second Mommy. He loves Rachel and she loves him very much. She's tender with him and very selfless. Rachel is squished in between two kids with huge personalities (and I don't mean that in a completely positive way) and so she tends to be a peacemaker, but can also break and becomes very emotional. I notice sometimes she puts up with so much and tries to ignore so much and then just falls apart and can't take anymore of it.
We've been working with her on expressing her frustration and coming to us for help when she feels like she's the referee between Ethan and Kara.
Its hard to be in the middle and my hope is that Rachel will never feel trapped and know that she has a voice and is heard and understood.
Rachel is our crafting, story writing, musical girl. She's always wanting to work on a project and sees things through to their end. She inspires me with that.

I'm gonna try to blog more. Especially since the blog is private now. I think before my hesitation was not knowing fully who was seeing this. There's a lot I DON'T want to say to a total stranger and definitely pictures I will not post for just anyone to see.
Sadly, Facebook is no longer totally private (why they still have privacy settings is beyond me) so there's a huge amount I don't share on their anymore either.
My photos all go to Flickr, a lot of them go to Instagram (but my account is private) and very rarely do I post a pic of my kids on Facebook. I had someone complain the other day and I had to laugh when I told them I would add them to my IG account and they said they didn't check IG often. Don't complain to me and then not be willing to follow my rules for seeing pics of MY kids. Sheesh!

But anyway, I promise, I'm gonna try to blog more. I'd like to post fun things we're doing in school and it would be nice to use this as a place to sort of journal about parenthood again.
This was a long post, but my recap would be that its just been a really nice Fall. We're excited about winter - looking forward to some day trips, a vacation and some breaks from the busyness of school and other activities. We won't be going to CA this holiday season which has strangely only really bummed me out, but I'm looking forward to all the holiday fun with my little, not so little anymore, family of 6 :)
I love being a mom and I'm so thankful for my husband's job that allows me to stay home and spend every day with these 4 amazing people. I feel incredibly blessed... and I'm not just saying that. I hope being a Grandparent IS as amazing as my Mom tells me, because I get super emotional when I think about my kids being grown up and out of the house.

These crazy, exhausting days fill my heart with more join than I even realize.

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